There were lots of hugs and even a few tears. Friends and family traveled from all over the country to be there for this moment. Love was in the air at the church that day as we celebrated the wedding.
Less than a week later…
Once again, friends and family traveled from all over the country to be there. The hugs and tears were also present. But this time, we had just received word from the doctor that there was no more hope for the 17-year old life that was so precious to us all. There was no celebrating in that cold hospital room, but love could still be felt in every corner.
Love is beautiful. Love is precious. Love is starry-eyed and exhilarating. Any bride and groom can tell you that on their wedding day. Love is as sweet and delicious as my grandma’s fresh pecan pie on Thanksgiving day.
But try explaining love in those terms to a family who just lost their mother to cancer. Or a group of students who will never see their beloved accounting teacher again. Or the young man who just had the girl of his dreams break up with him. Or the dad who watched helplessly as his daughter slowly slipped away on a hospital bed.
You see, love for a human can also be devastating. Brutal. Hollow-eyed and heart wrenching. As bitter as the apple cider vinegar your mom made you drink when you were a kid.
To love a human being is one of the greatest risks in this life. Humans are imperfect creatures. They can change, misunderstand, disappoint, and betray.
And they can die.
Why do we set ourselves up for such pain and heartbreak? The more we love, the more we become vulnerable to the very thing that we are loving! It’s painfully true that those who are closest to us are the ones who can hurt us the most. Is it really worth it?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet just one person in this life that you could trust with complete and utter abandon, knowing that he would never, ever let you down in any way? Someone who was perfect and never changed. The ultimate best friend. Someone you could love without any fear.
That sounds like what we’ve learned about Jesus, doesn’t it? But I must confess, after praying for hours with no visible response, I question even the trustworthiness of Jesus. Can a God who allows tragedy really be trusted and loved without fear?
If this answer is “no” we are left in a dark place with betrayal and disappointments swirling around on every side. There’s no one to turn to, no one to trust, no one to love. The risk is too great.
It becomes easy to build up cold walls of protection. To push others away. To push God away. To build a cocoon and snuggle in the quiet of isolation. To minimize the risk of love.
But this world of isolation is even more miserable. Life without love and relationships is not life at all. It is merely a pitiful existence in a grayscale world. And worst of all, without love, death is the only end. Eternal death.
But what if we choose to stake our claim with men like Joseph and Job? What if we decide to trust in the God of the Bible, even in the very midst of the calamity that He has allowed? After all, this God knows all about the pain that love can bring. He too has experienced rejection, betrayal, and yes, even the death of a loved one.
And this God has promised that He loves us. He SO loves us that he gave us his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him will not die, but have everlasting life!
It is only this love and this promise that can give us any hope or meaning on this earth. It’s the only thing that can keep us out of that world of self-protection and isolation. It’s the only thing that makes the risk of love worth taking.
As long as we are on this fallen earth, love will sometimes carry the painful sting of sin. I don’t fully understand why, and I have given up trying. Yet, when we puny humans are flattened by circumstances in the cosmos that are beyond our control, we can still cling to the promises of God, get back up, and bravely choose to keep loving. We MUST!
Because, my friend, love is a risk. But NOT to love is the greatest risk of all.
|Troy Stauffer’s home lies just north of Hershey, PA (the sweetest place on earth). A member of the class of 2011 at Faith Mennonite High School, he has now returned to his alma mater as Mr. Stauffer and teaches some math, science, and phys ed classes. When not grading papers or doing lesson prep, he enjoys sports, videography, strategy games, spending time with friends, singing, and playing piano.