God Loves "Wretched" Things ...
Brother Lawrence, the lowly-but-famous monk who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God said the following:
I regard myself as the most wretched of all men, stinking and covered with sores, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Overcome by remorse, I confess all my wickedness to Him, ask His pardon and abandon myself entirely to Him to do with as He will. But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the more weak and despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.
Have you ever felt that way? Like you are the "most wretched of all ... stinking and covered with sores?" I know that I have. When I am impatient with my kids. When I have a disagreement with my wife. When my heart (or my mouth) expresses something ungodly or unkind. As is true for all of us, I don't desire to do these things. But, I have an old man that creeps up out of the grave sometimes. I am a wretched sinner.
HOWEVER - oh, what a glorious however! - I am also a new creation in Christ! (2 Cor. 5:17). We are all, to borrow a phrase from Martin Luther, simul iustus et peccator, "simultaneously justified yet sinners." We don't have to walk around in wretched lowliness and despair. COVID-19 is compressing our relationships and our lives. We have more time available to be with God. We also have more time to see our faults and experience relational difficulty. But, my friends, do not fear because God loves "wretched" things! In fact, He loves us and sees us in a completely different light through the work and worth of His Son Jesus! As Paul says in Romans 4, quoting King David: "Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sins the Lord will never count against them." We are blessed because God loves us unconditionally in and through His Son, "wretched" as we may think we are at times.
Friends, give yourselves some grace during this season (and every season!). We sometimes can only see the negative. God looks at us as His beloved children whom He loves. I hope you find the truth in Brother Lawrence's words for yourself: But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. You and me are His favorite! Amen!