Impossible Love

Mark McIlraith

My thirteenth year of life was the worst. Nothing happened that was particularly bad. I just felt awkward and out of place. I didn’t like myself at all; and because I didn’t like me, I was convinced that no one else liked me either. Sure, I had friends. We had fun. I looked fine on the outside, but I wasn’t fine on the inside. I wished that I were different: cooler, taller, smarter, funnier, stronger. I hated myself.

That’s when Debbie stepped in. Debbie was the perfect youth leader. She was fun, caring, and full of energy.

devozine Trouble TS 89474914My friends and I were terrible to her. When she tried to lead an activity or a talk, we made fun of her. When she led music, we mimicked her. We were awful. Of course, I assumed that she wouldn’t like me because, as you know, I thought no one could.

But here’s the strange thing: Debbie actually liked me.

I didn’t get it. How could she like me? I was unlikable. How could she treat me with love when I was treating her so badly? I was unlovable, and yet someone was showing me love. Impossible! Debbie loved me when I thought nobody could. I didn’t know what to make of it. What had gotten into Debbie?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43–44 (NIV), “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” What had gotten into Debbie? Jesus Christ.

devozine Lovable TS 91040941It took me some time to understand fully what Debbie was doing and what was happening to me because of her. I finally figured out that because of Christ, Debbie could show love for me in spite of the way I treated her. God’s love was so strong in her that she was able to love the unlovable. She was able to love me with the love of Christ.

Impossible! Yes, but in Christ all things are possible.

Because Christ loved me through Debbie, my life changed. I began to realize that I was not unlovable after all. I began to understand that God loved me so much that Christ died for me. The only way Debbie could love me when I thought no one could is because Jesus Christ loves me when no one else can.



The God of impossible love loves us beyond our understanding, and God’s love dwells in us so that we can do the impossible. Let Christ live in you and love others through you, even those people who are hard to love. Take a few minutes to imagine showing Christ’s love to someone who treats you badly. Now make the impossible possible!

Mark McIlraith is Pastor of Families, Youth, and Children at Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington.

—from devozine (July/August 2008). Copyright © 2008 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved

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