My heart cries even though my eyes won’t. And I fear that my heart is growing cold. I fear it may freeze. My flood of emotion might just surround me and hold me tight in its frozen grip.
But today, I choose to live by faith and not feelings. This is no easy feat for a passionate one. Because passion doesn’t always feel good. Passion, in fact, hasn’t always been defined as it is today.
Not until the thirteenth century did the word “passion” take on modern meaning. Today, “passion” is defined as:
1. A powerful emotion, such as love or anger.
2a. Ardent love. b. Strong sexual desire; lust. c. The object of such love or desire.
3a. Boundless enthusiasm: a passion for sports. b. the object of such enthusiasm.
(American Heritage Dictionary)
The word “passion” comes from the Latin “passio” which means “suffering”. Prior to the thirteenth century, “passion” referred exclusively to the suffering of Christ.
Passion and suffering. Who wants it?
If I want to know Christ—to really know Jesus—to be as intimate as I can with my Savior—I must sign up for suffering and learn how to suffer well. Because He did. He signed up for suffering. And He suffered well.
Jesus did things He didn’t FEEL like doing. He didn’t FEEL like being slandered and betrayed with a kiss. He didn’t FEEL like being arrested with no just cause. He didn’t FEEL like being mocked and stripped and scourged. He didn’t FEEL like dragging his own death wood through city-center crowds. And He certainly didn’t FEEL like having his hands and feet nailed to that cross where He hung like a criminal and suffocated in His own flesh fluid while those for whom He was dying stood by and gambled His garment away. And even worse than all this—Jesus didn’t FEEL like BECOMING sin for every sinner and having His Father . . . turn . . . away. Yet, all this was Christ’s passion. Passionate love and suffering go together in the truest, purest love.
God is teaching me this today as I write. Passion isn’t always pleasant. Passion means you believe something—you love someone—so entirely that you will suffer whatever God calls for in order to love as God loves.
My mom used to say she loved us kids so much she would die for us. I suppose she meant it. But I think she meant she would physically die for us so we could live. What an amazing sacrifice! But would she die to her pride? Would she die to her wishes? Would she die to her expectations? Would she die to her fears? Would she die to all her “needs” so that I could live—so that the dead parts of me could come back to life?
Now I ask myself the same questions as a mother. I’m in a place where one of our kids keeps chipping away at trust. Piece by piece I feel parts of my heart chilling. Will I grow colder? Will I freeze and die to love? I dare say “yes” without Jesus. Only Jesus is keeping the passion fire stoked so that while the “passio” suffering intensifies, so does the love. It’s not natural. My flesh screams on the inside. But I’m praying to see him like Jesus sees him. And Jesus is answering my prayer. Jesus is helping me see how alike I am with this adult-child pilgrim.
I lie. I say I love Jesus and then I prove otherwise.
I steal. I take from God what is meant for others and hoard it all for myself.
I say I care about others when way too often it’s all about me.
I’m broken. Who is all-together whole?
I’m trying to find my way. Just like someone I love.
I stumble and fall and get cut up bad. Just like someone I love.
But I will make it though, because the Holy Spirit lives within me. Just like someone I love.
And He has promised to complete me. And He has promised the same to the one I love.
So though I’m in “passio” right now—there is holy purpose . . . .
I can rejoice in my sufferings, because I know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint me, because God has poured out his love into my heart by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given me. (Romans 5:3, NIV, personalized)
I am a daughter of God, led by the Spirit of God and I did not receive a spirit that makes me a slave again to fear. I am God’s daughter. . . And if I am God’s daughter, then I am an heiress—I am an heiress of God and I am a co-heir with Christ, if indeed I share in his sufferings in order that I may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17, NIV, personalized)
Oh Lord, help me share in your sufferings—your “passio”! Help me suffer well! And help me stay the course because I want—more than anything—to see you in your glory—to share in your glory. Help me believe beyond the season of cold and frozen.
Spring is coming! Help me hold on!
Everything will bloom again, in your time!
Because love—true love—blooms eternal.
Even in “passio”.