"...'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' He answered and said, "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him." - Jn. 9, 34-38
Do you know the story of Israel? Not the place, but the person, Israel. Do you know his story? The story of Israel, basically, goes like this.
Israel, formerly known as Jacob, was born to a less-desirable family. His mother was manipulative and she had control over his life. His father, on the other hand, didn’t do anything about it. Because of this family setting, he had no role model to follow. He had no one to look up to, that’s why he grew up being on his own. He grew up being manipulative. He wanted things to go his way; he grew up wanting to control his own life.
And so, he lived a life wherein he only depended on himself. Literally, he was left alone by himself. He had no one but himself. But then, there was an incident where he was going to lose everything. He was going to die. He came to a point where he started to depend on God. And so, he prayed to God, but he was more of demanding God to bless his life. Then God revealed himself to Jacob (his name was still Jacob at this time), and He ‘wrestled’ with Jacob. Yes, Jacob WRESTLED with God, and then, God told Jacob to let go. Why did God tell Jacob to let go? Because it was going to be daybreak soon, and the revelation of God to Jacob would kill him. But Jacob said no. Jacob didn’t want to let go of God. He went on to say that he would rather die than to have not God in his life.
From that moment on, Jacob became Israel, meaning “one who fights with God”. From that moment on, Jacob depended on God. He started trusting God. He started having God in his life.
We, too, are like Jacob. Someway, somehow we have experienced being alone, being broken, being empty. We found ourselves on the edge, holding onto a thin rope nearly falling into a pit of darkness. But, God will always be there for us. God is always there to pick us up. Someway, somehow, He will reveal himself to us. Someway, somehow, He will make his unconditional love ever present in our lives.
I forget now when exactly I first saw that video, but I do remember that there wasn’t a single second during that two-and-a-half-minute video when my eyes were dry. It hits so close to home, because it reminds me of The Great Rock Bottom season of my life.
By now, many of my friends who are reading this probably already know this story, but I’ll tell you the gist of it again, just in case you missed it or if you’ve never heard it before.
So at exactly this time just last year, I was at the lowest point of my life. It was the time when I really hit rock bottom, and I hit it hard. See, the world hurt me very deeply, and I sort of decided that that was my free pass to basically becoming the angriest, most hateful and toxic person there ever was.
Yet underneath it all, what really tore me apart was the gaping hole of loneliness that my anger bore through me. I’ve isolated myself, because I figured it was better to feel lonely when I was alone than if I felt lonely even though I was surrounded by people.
On May that same year, however, all of that disappeared when one afternoon, God reached down and lifted off 19 years of angst, hatred and pain in a single moment. He led me to Isaiah 43:4, which reads “I would give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and I love you and give you honor.”
My life changed right after the period, I swear. It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever had with my Father. It felt like those words had wrapped me in a warm and loving embrace, surrounding me with a light that cast out all the darkness in my broken places. And it was the day when I finally realized that I never had to beg anyone for any kind of love, because I was already loved more deeply and profoundly than I could ever comprehend, by Him who is Love Himself.
That was the day I came home.
I watched that video again today, and I still ended up crying, because I remember where I’ve been. I’m in a much better place now, but I still remember. I remember the moments when I would do something mundane like make coffee or walk to class and I would wonder if anybody would notice if I disappeared. I remember the nights when I stayed awake thinking of what it was about me that made me so difficult to love.
I still know what it felt like to be broken.
Today, I’m more confident that I am loved with a relentless, never-ending love. But Jacob’s story reminds me that I have been loved even longer than I believe.
God loved me today the same way that He loved me all those months ago when I felt so dirty and disgusting that even I wanted to stay away from me. In that moment when I was at my worst, when I felt most broken, God looked at me and declared me beautiful. To die for, actually. And He didn’t just say it, but He proved it.
It is finished.
Jesus chose the Cross without any second thoughts because He would rather bleed for my sake than be in heaven without me.
The good news is that this is true for you, too.
God doesn’t wait for us to get our lives together to love us. He already does. He says come as you are, because He’s not scared of handling broken people. His hands are always big enough, strong enough, still enough to carry all our unspoken broken.
Article by Kenneth Gando and Krishna Magallanes
Published by Krishna Magallanes