Love | Ruud Stolvoort


I married my high school sweetheart. Talk about a love story. We had three kids: a boy, and two girls. I taught and later administrated at my Christian high school alma mater.

Man, life was good. There was plenty of love to go around.

Our family grew as we added more kids through marriage. You know, the in-law kind and the hope of grandchildren to follow.  We didn’t have much, but we were rich in love and kept by the love of our community and God. There were trials along the way, each one preparing us for what was next.

We asked God for wisdom to train our kids; He gave it.

Directions for next steps in our lives; He lit the path.

There were plenty of times where we faced lack, yet there was always His promise of provision and prayer to see us through. As a couple we trusted in what God had in store for us.

Then . . . cancer.  

First my son’s wife, with terminal brain cancer.

Then my wife with stage four breast cancer.

So yeah, life was hard. We focused on God. We still felt SO blessed. We continued to place our lives in God’s hands, and He did so many amazing things. The love of God doubled and tripled in its proportions. His grace enabled us to face so many trials. Our family grew more as grandkids, four boys and three girls, arrived.

And then, my sweet love died.

Oh, I struggled! I held things together on the outside while roiling with grief within. At one point while praying I said “Lord, every good and perfect gift comes from you. If this is a gift where’s the love?” Right now, you might be thinking, did you just throw God’s words back at Him and question His love?

Mmmmm yeah. It was kind of a Job moment.

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, cancer is part of this sin-cursed world. The God of love didn’t curse us with disease. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Satan seeks to destroy God’s beautiful creation and will use any means to do so! Cancer is his doing and death is sin’s curse.

At one point in my journey through grief, my counselor told me I need to love myself.

“How can I love myself when I don’t even like myself?” I questioned.

True story. I really struggle with that one. Maybe you feel that way sometimes as well.

The TRUTH is when I am lonely, God never leaves me alone. He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut 31:8) I was never abandoned by God or forgotten by Him. It is also true that God loves us regardless of how we feel or how anyone else feels about us. In this season of love when we celebrate God coming to earth in human flesh, look to Him. Through all the darkness in this world, God’s love shines through every black place: every grief, sadness, and pain.
In 1747, Charles Wesley published a hymn entitled Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. The Hymn was a prayer asking God to live in us. That His love would shine through us and that the culmination of His love for us would be found in this new creation!

Hope, peace, joy and love make Christmas one of the most anticipated times of year for the believer. Decorations are bright and festive, songs are cheerful, lights sparkle and shine; but what makes the Love of God MOST meaningful? God’s love shines bright in the darkness.
You could be asking why I am writing about how difficult love is.  I could write about love like it is portrayed in a Hallmark movie, but that would be a very incomplete representation of love. Love is powerful, painful, and messy. Love hurts and can come with heartache.

Love also prepares – Man’s sin in the garden was no surprise to God. He had a plan to address our sin. He chose us to be holy and blameless before him before the world was formed (Eph 1:4). He shows us that Love takes action. God sought us before we sought Him (1 Jn 4:19).
Each turn of His divine story in human history is marked with His love. God acted in love when He filled our lungs with breath. His love fills our emptiness and comforts our grief. Love IS the gift of eternal life for those willing to trust Him through His Son Jesus, sent for us. 
God is love and it motivates all the works of His hands.  The mark of a Christ follower is that we would be known by our love also. Amid a season that can be equally marked by sorrow and joy, where struggles still overwhelm and it may not be easy to be cheerful, let us be known as those who carry love by being light in darkness like Christ, the light of the world.

Ruud Stolvoort
Guest blogger