Today, Super Bowl LII will be held in Minnesota. This is the most watched sporting event held in America and it is one of the biggest tournaments worldwide; only surpassed by the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.
Sports and similar events have grown exponentially in the United States. There are competitions almost every day, in almost everything you can think of and at every level. Little kids compete in “Pee Wee” leagues and then continue playing in Middle and High school, in college and some become “professionals.” There’s even senior leagues for retired athletes.
America (and the whole world) has an obsession with competitions. We play and watch a bunch of “normal” sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, car racing, etc.), but there are many tournaments involving other activities like Frisbee, darts, horseshoe toss and many other really weird “sports.”
I have never heard of any event in which couples compete to see who loves the other person more. A few years ago, Stanford University conducted a “Love Competition” in which a few couples competed via an MRI to see who loved his partner the most. The brain scan showed different levels of reactions in the brain, along with raised levels of dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and other brain chemicals.
This is not the kind of love competition that I am referring to. MRI’s and X-Rays cannot determine how much we love others, because love is not an emotion or “chemistry.” Love is a gift from God and is expressed mostly by loving and giving actions that come from our will.
The Bible says: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16)
Love is measured, not by fancy poems and extravagant gifts (although there is a place for those), but by our giving. In 2 Corinthians 8:5, the apostle Paul speaks of the Macedonians great giving in this way:
“…but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”
This is real love. Love gives. God gave and the Macedonians gave. Giving, however, is more than giving money---it is giving ourselves to God and to others.
I have often wondered how different marriages (and other relationships) would be, if we would try to outlove each other. Divorce and fights would be a thing of the past if we were more concerned for the well being of our partners or friends. Philippians 2:3, 4 says,
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Have you ever been in a troublesome situation? We all have faced problems and tribulations almost on a daily basis. If is not one thing is the other, but the fact remains that troubles will visit all of us with an irritating frequency and intensity.
And yet, there are days which seem more problematic than others. I am referring to the days when attacks come one after another; like a swarm of locust that devastate everything in sight. These days are intolerable and seemingly never-ending.
That is exactly how I have been feeling these last few days. It all started on Friday with a simple cough, but it has degenerated into something far worse. Now I have problems or pain in almost every inch of my body. I have a medical condition in:
My head and my eyes
My nose and my mouth
My throat and my neck
My stomach and my chest
I also have constant fever, which in turn has drained all of my strength. I am also suffering from headaches, insomnia, allergies and dehydration and a few more I forgot. The only “good news” in all of this is that I have dropped a few pounds…which I need to.
My case cannot be compared to Job’s day of trial. In one day, Job went from being the richest and most blessed man of his time (Job 1:3), to one of the poorest and most miserable (humanly speaking). In one day, Job lost his fortune (camels, cows, sheep, and donkeys) and all his children (Job 1:13-18).
Only Jesus, and perhaps the apostle Paul, suffered even more than Job. In fact, Isaiah 53 tell us that Jesus was:
“…despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (v. 3)
Do you want to talk about having problems? Jesus is personally acquainted with sorrow, grief, troubles, pain, abandonment, betrayal and any other problem you can think of (or complain about). He, who put Job to the test, voluntarily became the Object of derision, scorn and all sorts of attacks.
But Isaiah continues,
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows...He was bruised for our iniquities...and by his stripes we are healed" (vv. 4, 5)
I don’t know how to end my problems or this blog, but perhaps we can learn that problems are part of life; that Jesus knows about our problems and that He uses problems to bring the best out of us. Remember that it was He that faced the wilderness for 40 days; that prayed with his own blood on Gethsemane and that shed that same blood to save us from Hell.