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Loving Life

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” -John 12:25

Have you ever met anyone who just seems to love life? I think in particular of a man I know that has worked at my husband’s store for a very long time. He has shown up every day, unless absolutely physically unable, for over 40 years, going about his day cheerfully and truly being a blessing to all of those that he encounters. He can often be heard whistling while he works and he greets everyone he meets with a pleasant hello and often a pat on the back. Allen and his wife Irene live a very simple life. They work hard, speak truth, are kind to others, and are grateful for every blessing God has sent their way. 

It seems like a great thing to see someone who “loves life.”  So why would Jesus basically tell us that we should hate this life, and that anyone who loves their life will lose it?  Does God really want us to hate our life?

…..Yes and no.

There are days, even in this very blessed existence of mine, that I don’t seem to have a lot of trouble hating this life. I’ve often said, “Life is hard, even for those of us who have it made.” My family has endured many hardships over the years and there is not one person I can think of who has not been through some degree of pain and suffering, whether it be physical or emotional. This world is so broken, so full of suffering. My eyes have seen people so desperate that they are living in and eating food from a landfill. I’ve met girls who have no other way to feed their kids than by earning money through prostitution. I’ve seen children being abused, moms who have lost children, and injustices that make me angry to the point of tears. Some days it’s not so difficult to “hate your life.” Some days I long for heaven, and for an end to the sufferings of myself and others, so badly that I physically ache. 

Jesus too, knew the sufferings of this life.  In John Chapter 12, He becomes aware that His time on earth is nearing its end. 

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” -John 12:27-28

I can’t even imagine the anguish Jesus felt during this time, knowing that He was about to suffer physically, to the point of death, emotionally, because He was about to leave the people that He had so come to know and love, and spiritually, because He would carry the sin of the world on His shoulders. What a tortuous time for Him. 

So how do we find balance between loving life and hating it? How is it okay to “hate” this blessed life that God has given us; to live thankfully and joyfully in the midst of the pain and suffering?

God wants us to be joyful, to have a “life abundant.” But our joy should not come from the “things” that are of this world; things and pleasures that are fleeting and will come and go with the ups and downs of this life. Money, success, material things, praise from men, comforts….the list goes on and on.  None of these will last, nor will they bring lasting joy. 

Our joy should come from the deep rooted knowledge that Jesus has saved us.  We have a Savior who has promised us eternal life and rest with him and at the same time cares about our life here on earth, continually working all things out for our good. This is a joy that is unshakable. This is a joy that has nothing to do with the circumstances or the hardships or the difficulties of this life.

"I came so that they could have life -- indeed, so that they could have life to the fullest". -John 10:10

Is it possible to be both happy and sad at the same time? Absolutely! I feel like I live my life with a deep rooted joy that comes from knowing our Savior. But at the very same time, always just under my surface, is a deep rooted sadness at the brokenness of this world as well as an intense longing for heaven. I’m always hesitant to say I hate my life because that sounds so ungrateful. But when compared to the riches of heaven, the things of this world sure do pale in comparison!

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” -1 Corinthians 2:9

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