Updated: Jan 31, 2020
We live in a culture that paints love to be powerful in word but flimsy in deed. We love our children and we love our spouse. We love food and we love Netflix. But then just as easily and quickly as turning off the kitchen light, we no longer love the song we played 100 times last week and we don't have any love for the person we committed our life to. It begs the question: What is love anyway? Is it the moments in the back seat where there is passion but no commitment? Is it the words that drip with sugar-sweetness but have no anchor in anything true? We memorize plenty of Bible verses about love, but then look around at a world that is cruel, deceitful and merciless. Tell me....
When a wife hears the loving promises of faithfulness at the alter followed by the shattering words of betrayal years later, has love failed?
When a couple finally sees two little pink lines after months and sometimes years of fertility treatments, only to miscarry the child days before the due date, has love succeeded in its hope?
When a spouse is forced into a divorce after investing time and health praying, fasting and enduring humiliation trying to win back affection, has love endured?
When a child is told they are loved but are subsequently being abused and/or abandoned, has love prevailed? When a parent chooses not to bail out their son or daughter, letting them face the consequences of their own actions, has love believed the best?
We have heard plenty of declarations of love but, tell me, what do you tell a child running after their daddy as he walks out of the house with a suitcase? What do you say to the woman on the floor weeping after being kicked by her husband? What do you tell the daughter enduring sexual abuse by her father? What do you tell the husband watching his wife entice everyone in town but him? In all of these situations, love was once professed but now its only expression is completely the opposite. Has love failed these people?
WHAT IS LOVE?
The prophet Micah understood this well. In the tiny little Old Testament book sandwiched between Jonah and Nahum, we meet a man who had a heart for the people of Israel to experience the love of God. He was passionate about it. Chapter after chapter, he poured out his heart, painfully aware of the sin that was breaking families, ruining lives and stealing joy. Micah saw it all; moral depravity, ethical decay, sexual promiscuity, religious manipulation, feuding families and spousal betrayal and it subsequently led to his own deep depression. When he looked inward, all he found was darkness. When he looked outward, all he could see was wickedness. I don't know about you, but I can relate. But then he did what we often do only as the last resort - he looked up. I think we need to understand that love isn't "out there" or "in here," but up - always up - where Christ sits on high. Micah, after watching love fail again and again and again said, "Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me."
Fast forward to the apostle Paul who was beaten and stoned by religious church people, and we have the greatest description of love ever written in 1 Corinthians 13. Had Paul received always-patient-and-kind love from the brethren? Had Paul seen fellow Christians exhibit love that was never resentful or irritable? You know as well as I do that he had not. Not in the slightest! However, what he had experienced was the measureless, all-consuming, never ending love of the Savior of the world. He had been captivated by it and overtaken with it. Paul was well acquainted with suffering and pain, likely more than any of us ever will be, so he knew that everything and everyone would fail. But when he encountered Jesus, he learned that love - the love of God Himself - was something that would never fail.
Love isn't a screenplay for a film, it is the ever present, always faithful, bountiful grace of God Almighty.
If you fix your eyes on your rebellious child, your adulterous spouse, your abusive parent or your hostile co-worker, you will do nothing for your soul but soak in that same pungent filth.
If you turn inward and try to summon up enough willpower and motivational speeches to believe you've got enough love to sustain yourself, you're going to drain your spirit and wind up empty and cynical.
When we assume that imperfect people can do a perfect thing, darkness will inevitably flood our mind and our heart. But friend, if you settle your gaze on the hands that bled for you and the eyes that are always upon you, you will experience a love that will never walk out the door. You will see His patient love displayed when you're screaming in anger for it to all go away. You will feel His kindness when your worn out heart is too rebellious to do anything but throw a temper tantrum. You will taste His goodness when that need of yours is met that no one was aware of. In the moments when you feel as though you're going to collapse from the burden, you can find His love bearing all things, just as He did at Calvary. Not by looking out or in, but by looking up, we see Love that goes on and on and on with a passion no sin here on earth could match. Sister, be encouraged. Let your heart rejoice in this glorious truth: While people here on earth will fail time and time again, you have One who has not, can not and will not. Because His love, and only His love, will never end.