I thought that I had completed writing about Jesus’ gift of love from l Corinthians 13, but after a rather lengthy discussion with my husband today regarding my take on the passage, I decided that I would take one more day to describe Jesus’ gift of love toward us by expanding on the last portion of I Corinthians 13:
“Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails.”
As my wonderful husband pointed out, “Robin, these verses were written to teach us how God calls us to love. They were also written to let us know that to truly be followers of Jesus we must extend this kind of love. And besides, God frankly doesn’t always protect us – there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world, even for those who follow Jesus. (My husband and I are both very aware of the suffering of life as we have both watched beloved spouses suffer immense pain before dying; and then watched as our children have suffered the agony of their parents’ passing. And we ourselves have suffered greatly because of our loss.) Also, God doesn’t need to trust or hope – he knows all. I think you have misread this passage.”
Yet, as I pondered Gary’s words, I had to admit that I know myself well enough to say, “I could never love like this unless God gave me the ability to do so”. Because he is “love”, all of this must come from him – from his character. So, because he says I am to do this, he must have already been doing this himself, for God never asks me to do something without going before me. Yet, Gary made some good points.
- The fact is, God does sometimes allow us to suffer immensely. So how can he say that “love always protects”? I have found that when I come across something in the Bible that seems contradictory to what I understand as reality, I can trust and know that God never lies (he doesn’t ever delight in evil as I wrote yesterday, so he can’t lie). So, as God can’t lie, then I must conclude that I don’t fully understand the issue from the perspective of eternity, and from his being all knowing. I am finite. Also, as I have come to know Jesus more fully and to experience his love in even the hardest of times (especially as I watched my beloved husband succumb to lung cancer, and watched my son fall to pieces in the middle), I would have to say that although God allowed all of this, he did protect each of us throughout. Maybe not in the way that we would have hoped, but he did protect nonetheless. My husband never endured more pain that he could handle, and was transformed by the experience. He was able to say in his last months “I have more peace than I have ever had in my entire life.” I was able to watch my husband suffer and care for my son with autism, both of them in and out of the hospital, sometimes simultaneously, with miraculous strength. My son, even in immense anger at God, never killed someone or himself and was graciously protected from harm. God did protect us from what could have been more than we could bear, and on top of it gave us gifts we would have never experienced otherwise. He always does.
- Truth is, God doesn’t need to trust or hope – for he knows all. Yes, but as God sees from the other side of trust and hope – the fulfillment of his promises, we are able to hope and trust in any circumstance with the full assurance of his faithful love for us.
As I finish out this section of I Corinthians 13, I come to the crescendo of this description of Jesus’ gift of love, “love always perseveres, and love never fails. When I think of all God’s love means and is, to think that it never ends and never goes away is amazing to me. I can do nothing to separate myself from his love. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 says it beautifully:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is a caveat – “…revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If Jesus isn’t our Lord – i.e. our final authority, then none of this applies. Yet, the beauty of the story of Jesus is that God wants it to apply – to you. Going our own way, and running from him won’t get us there. Want this incomprehensible, enduring, uncompromising, faithful love? Turn around and begin running to Jesus. Think this is too good to be true? Be willing to take a risk. Ask him to show you the truth in it. He would love to do just that. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Jesus, I’m not convinced, but I would love if it were true. Show me please this kind of amazing love.