There are times in life when it seems all you've got is belovedness.
After the church we planted came to an end, my wife and I did not feel beloved. We felt rejected. We felt alone. There seemed to be a number of "friends" around us who acted quite a lot like Job's "friends" - taking every opportunity to lay the blame squarely on us, despite the facts on the ground (and the words coming out of our mouths). But there were not many real friends. Not really.
Ever been in a place like that?
Work was tough too in those days, and I had a freelance client who was especially tough. I could sense that the enemy, the satan, the accuser, was at work underneath the surface of this situation, and things rapidly came to a head. The client was angry, berating, irrational, making accusations that made no sense and demands that were impossible. As I approached the final series of meetings, my self-confidence and self-esteem had all but disappeared; I had no certainty that things would resolve, and feared they would become even worse. Worse yet: my family was depending on this job to be able to pay our bills.
That's when it hit me. Despite all appearances, and with all kinds of people saying all kinds of things to the contrary for all kinds of reasons - I am the beloved of God. I am the beloved of God! Completely! Right now! Yes, in the midst of this mess and with my self-esteem whittled to a nub, I am the passion of God's heart, the purpose of Jesus's poured out compassion, and the subject of the Spirit's alighting, tender grace! Even me, even right now.
I honestly didn't have anything else in those days - no other affirming voice, no other comforting thought. As I ascended the stairs to those final meetings, all I had was belovedness.
And now, I'm grateful for that time, and for this lesson.
Because as things get better (they have been, and continue to be, getting better), at the core of me, way down deep, I want my identity always to be simply, completely, right now and forever - "the beloved of God." There may be other affirming voices, other comforting thoughts. I may have more than that belovedness.
But by God's grace, that belovedness will always be all that I ever need.