I just had lunch with a sweet friend who is recently divorced after seven years of marriage. She tried everything she could to stay married; but when the person you are married to no longer wants to be married it is a hard battle to win. In her case, winning was impossible.
A few years ago, a single friend in her early forties, confided that Valentine’s Day was the most difficult holiday for her to endure. The whole world seemed coupled-up and she was alone. Not only was she alone, but she felt like she was invisible.
We’ve all heard people explain away Valentine’s Day by declaring it a made-up holiday. They argue that because it forces people to show love and affection that it negates everything. It’s all false. There’s no such thing as true love.
Then, there are those who look forward to every opportunity to express their love and grab hold of Valentine’s Day with gusto! These romantics err on the side of happiness, buy chocolates and flowers, make dinner reservations for next year on February 15, and keep Hallmark in business. Almost everyone envies these people.
Whether you love it or you hate it, Valentine’s Day is here to stay. What is Valentine’s Day all about anyway? Well, we all know that today it is about roses, candy, cards, dinner (I hope you booked that reservation!), and perhaps a little romance. But what was it really – way back when it first started?
It’s odd, we don’t really know a lot about Saint Valentine, other than he was a priest who served God’s people. Legend has it that he was imprisoned and beheaded for performing weddings for persecuted Christians and soldiers, and for refusing to denounce God.
I wonder if this priest, this saint, could see how we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, if this godly man would be bothered that his name is attached to it.
I wonder if it would grieve him to know that many divorced, single, lonely, and broken people feel overlooked and invisible on February 14. I wonder if he would invite them to dinner.
I wonder if he would be happy with us. I wonder if he would be disappointed that God is typically not a part of our Valentine’s celebrations.
I think if St. Valentine could interject some wisdom into the holiday that bears his name, if he would remind us that love is not just an emotional feeling of passion? I think he would remind us that love is a verb – love works – and it does what it does without the hope or the expectation of anything in return.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
God defines love by his own character. God is love.
God went to great lengths to show us how much he loves us: when we were totally unlovable, when we were the worst we could be – enemies of God, no less – God sent Jesus to die for us. Amazing love! This is true love.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8 NIV
God loves us with love that acts. Love that always does the right thing. Love that is always pure and good. Love that never ends. Love that doesn’t depend on being loved in return.
It is easy to get lost in our loneliness and despair when our thoughts are focused inward. Sometimes, when our circumstances are difficult and life hasn’t turned out the way we had hoped, we might even think that God doesn’t love us.
However, it is in his love for us that he determines our circumstances. Everything that happens to us is filtered through the loving hands of our God for our good and for his eternal glory. He is at work for our best in every single moment of our lives – the very good, the very bad, the lonely, the hurts, the pain, and the suffering.
We are who we are, and we are where we are because God loves us. Whether we receive a valentine on Valentine’s Day does not make God’s love greater or less for us. Whether we are a part of a couple or alone does not make God’s love greater or less. Whether the world sees us, or we feel invisible does not make God’s love greater or less.
Will you look around you this Valentine’s Day, perhaps even across your living room, and see who is lonely or hurting? Will you share with them the love of God in Christ Jesus?
If you are the hurting one, will you open your heart to God’s love this Valentine’s Day and let him bring the healing you desperately need?
Click here for more information on Marcia’s Devotional, 365 Days of Grace