Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
~Prayer of Saint Francis
Some of the phrases are obvious. For instance: hatred vs. love – the theme would be Love; despair vs. hope – Hope; doubt vs. faith – Faith. For others, it might not be so obvious. However, when we look deeply, we can see the theme. For example, injury vs. pardon. What is pardon? Forgiveness. What is forgiveness? An act of great love. So, to me, the theme would be Love.
In the message synopsis below, we’ll examine each of the phrases and the related topics. And we’ll reference several scriptures associated with each topic. Take the time to read each of the scriptures for yourself and listen to what God has to say to you about them.
Hatred & Love – Love
We can find many scripture verses relating to the Great Commandment to “…Love one another…” (John 13:34). We are to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, etc. Reference scripture:
- Matthew 5:44-48
- John 13:34
- Leviticus 19:18
Though Leviticus 19:18 says “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…”, it’s important to remember that the laws set forth in Leviticus were for the Hebrews dealing with how they should treat each other. The New Testament commandment in John is new in that our love for one another should go beyond any such distinctions. We are to love one another as brethren in the same family, children of the same God – praying for one another, bearing each other’s burdens, forgiving each other, and building each other in faith.
Injury & Pardon – Love
Jesus spoke a lot about forgiveness. When Peter asked how many time he should forgive his brother, Jesus answered ‘up to seventy times seventy-seven’. Jesus also tells the story of a servant who is forgiven his debt by his master, yet he himself is unforgiving to those who are in debt to him. We are also reminded in the Epistles to not return evil for evil, live peaceably with all men, live in harmony, share the suffering of those who suffer, be affectionate one to another, and be kind and gentle; not rendering evil for evil, railing for railing, but instead of these, render blessing. Reference scripture:
- Matthew 6:14 & 15
- Matthew 18:21-3
- Romans 12:17 & 18
- 1 Peter 3:8 & 9
What is forgiveness? An act of great love.
Doubt & Faith – Faith
As we travel this journey of life, there will be times when we face doubts and fears. Jesus reminds us that the birds are fed though they don’t sow, harvest or store up food and wild flowers don’t spin and yet they’re beautiful. God knows all things that are necessary for us. All we have to have is faith.
An example of this faith is the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his son. Jesus says ‘sure, let’s go’; but the centurion doesn’t feel worthy and asks Jesus to just say the word and his son would be healed. Jesus responded with, “Go, let it be done to you according to your belief.” And the boy was healed.
Matthew and James remind us to “…have faith and do not doubt” and “…ask in faith, not doubting.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that every single little wish will be granted – it’s not waving a magic wand. What we’re asking must be in alignment with God’s plan. Scripture references:
- Matthew 8:5-9 & 13
- Matthew 21:21 & 22
- James 1:6
Despair & Hope – Hope
Even in times of despair, we have hope – God is always with us. Even our troubles can be used by God for good. Scripture references:
- Job:36:15, 16 & 19
- Romans 5:2-5
- Romans 15:13
These passages remind us that, even in times of despair, God is always with us – and there is always hope.
Darkness & Light – Love
Things like hate, despair, sadness, loneliness, anger, etc. are all things of darkness. Love, compassion, forgiveness, joy, etc. are things of the light. No matter what darkness we find ourselves in, God is there to light our path. Scripture references:
- 1 Samuel 22:29
- 1 John 2:9-11
Darkness and Light cannot co-exist. One cannot live in darkness and in light at the same time. Jesus is the Light of the World. We speak of the Divine Light of God. When we live in hate and ugliness towards others, how can we be living in the light? It is only through love that we abide in the Light, and in Christ.
Sadness & Joy – Faith
Even in times of great sadness, we can find some joy. There is always something, no matter how small it might seem, that we can be happy about and thankful for. If we hold onto our faith, God will comfort us and see us through our times of trouble. Every day is a new day, and holds the promise of better things to come. Remember the old proverb, “I cried because I had no shoes…then I met a man who had no feet.” Scripture references:
- Psalm 31:7 & 8
- Psalm 118:24
- Philippians 4:4-7
Times of sadness are a normal part of living our human experience. When we hold onto our faith, God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, will ease our sadness – guarding our hearts and our minds.
The Greatest of These is Love
As mentioned at the outset, each of the topics tie to three common themes: Faith, Hope, and Love. And, as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now abive faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.”
I love this prayer because it’s so simple yet encompasses so many aspects of my faith. If we all keep this prayer in mind, and do our best to live by it – can you imagine the effect it could have on our communities, states, nation, and even the world?
What are your thoughts? What can we do to be less hateful and more loving…more forgiving? How can we help others who might have doubts or who are experiencing ‘tests of faith’? What little things can we each do every day to help those who are in despair, darkness, or sadness to know the hope, light, and joy that are possible through God and Jesus? Post your comments, and, if this message resonates with you, feel free to share it!