Hope - Identity -Value
Hope - Identity -Value
We named our first child Nadja. My wife’s pregnancy went fine, but two hours after our daughter was born the doctor told us she had Downs Syndrome. In that moment, I was shocked. I cried, anticipating a difficult life for Nadja. But then I thought about her name. Nadja means “hope.” I told the doctor that I believed, like her name, there was hope for Nadja.
In my youth I always defined myself through how well I performed; on exams, in classes, on sports teams. If I was successful, I was valuable. If I failed, I only worked harder to regain value. Nadja taught me that I was finding my identity in all the wrong places.
Our identity is found in God. We have security and worth because God loves us. It is obvious in Nadja: her handicap (or Downs Syndrome) prevents her from succeeding at many things. She will not be able to attend the top university, have the best job, or be the best in athletics. Nadja is not identified by her performance—her successes or failures. She knows she is valued because she is loved by God. It is freeing to know my identity is found in God and is not determined by my performance.
“in Him you have been made complete” Colossians 2:10 (NASB)
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)
“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)
My story - how it began
As high school student, my freelance journalism and photography was showing up in the most popular Swiss newspapers and magazines. I experienced a great deal of love from my family, but with these successes and support,, a quote from a 17th Century philosopher and physicist, Blaise Pascal, would bother me.
I often felt empty and dissatisfied inside – especially in quiet moments when I took a break from all my busyness. Standing at my window, looking out over the horizon, the questions came, "Isn't there more to life? Is this all I can ever expect?". Pascal said, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.", Then I made some Christian friends. Their joy, contentment and strength impressed me a lot. They encouraged me to pursue my questions about the Meaning of Life – to search for my own answers. They told me about the source of their satisfaction and strength: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
At first I didn't really understand what they were talking about. To me, the whole concept was just ridiculous. At that time, I didn't think that God even really existed; he was just a human invention. If he did exist, then how could you possibly have a relationship with him? Despite all my questions, I could see convincing proof in my friends' lives; so I began reading the Bible. I fired questions at my friends constantly. The more I read, the more I realized that the Bible wasn't just a dusty history book. In fact, it was filled with wise advice that could help me live a meaningful and successful life.
Deep in my heart I started to feel like I wanted to "try out" Jesus – to see whether I could really get to know him personally. In a simple prayer, I told God that I wanted to live my life with him. I asked Jesus for forgiveness, especially for the fact that I had lived my life on my own terms up to that point.
Then something amazing happened: I felt a deep sense of peace. That vacuum of emptiness inside was gone. As it turned out, it wasn't success that would satisfy, but only a relationship with Jesus.
My relationship with God also helped me have better relationships with people too. I didn't just realize that relationships were the main focus in life, but God also helped me to make new friendships and to deepen important relationships in my life. As a result, I've been happily married to Heidi since 1987. In our marriage we experience how Jesus' gifts of love and forgiveness makes real closeness in our relationship possible. When our daughter Nadja was born with Down's Syndrome, God gave us the necessary hope and strength to deal with that difficult situation. Now, her joy for living reminds that every life is a gift from God with its own inherent dignity and an individual identity - regardless of achievements.
In the Bible, Jesus promises: "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (The Gospel of John, 10:10, The Message translation). I experience this kind of life as a daily reality.