Andy McQuitty is the senior pastor of the Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. During his battle with stage 4 cancer, he wrote about the things he learned from his “valley” of suffering. He shares them in his book Notes from the Valley and with James and Betty this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY.
The shadow of death here in this Valley and beyond jars our hearts to recognize the true value of love, the most precious thing of all.
I wish it weren’t true, but sometimes it takes dire circumstances to teach our selfish human hearts to love well. It is as if we need to have our hearts pruned by suffering that they may blossom fully in love. Paul indicates the necessity of this progression when he writes, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). God allows his children to endure tribulations to develop spiritual maturity for which love is the ultimate expression. That’s right, God wants the result of trusting Him through the hard times to produce in your heart such a wealth of love for Him and for others that you can hardly contain it.
Paul says that God’s fourfold formula for producing that love is suffering, perseverance, character, and hope. Suffering (literally, “to be pressed down”) wakes us up to eternal values and priorities, perseverance (literally, “to bear up under”) tests our resolve to remain in a difficult situation without giving up, and proven character results when the fire of testing burns the dross of worldly values from our souls. People who prove their faithful character before God find God faithful in their distress. He helps them, and their confidence in Him grows into hope – the certainty that God will keep His word. When a person reaches that certainty, love for a faithful God overflows their heart. In short, here’s God’s formula for love:
ALL YOU CAN TOLERATE +
ONE MORE THING +
GOD’S ENABLEMENT =
Therefore, your status as a Valley dweller not only does not disqualify you from loving well, it amplifies your love and multiplies its impact. Truly if love changes everything, and it does, then of all people we who travel in the Valley ought to let it. If we can let love change everything, then most certainly we should.