WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LOVE?
My chair where I spend the bulk of my day is on the far side of the room and directly behind the chair where my husband spends the bulk of his days working at his computer. I sense his tension when the stress level rises. I try to pray for him. But my mind drifts, and I find myself asking God for the things that I think will satisfy my husband. I want to love him well, but I wonder if I know what “loving well” truly means?
After 42 years of marriage, you would think that I would know the meaning of love.
When a new trial faces me, I realize that I have only scratched the surface of what true love looks like. My way of loving involves my own ideas. I want to help my loved one; I want to bring enjoyment to my loved one. Surely those are good meanings of love, aren’t they?
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LOVE IN THE BIBLE?
And then I look to the Scriptures. Using the “search” bar on my phone’s Bible App, I find that God’s meaning of love goes much deeper than what I have been pondering:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
It is not my shallow love that is the truest way of loving—no, the love of Christ, who gave himself for me and for my husband is what really counts. Jesus loves my husband far more than I ever could.
So when that new trial hits me, involving additional medical treatments, at the same time that a new trial hits my husband, involving additional medical testing for him, I wonder . . . How can I love him with the same kind of love that Jesus offered?
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF CHRIST’S LOVE?
Does that love mean that I will neglect my own care for his sake? Does that love mean that I will direct his treatment and take full responsibility for the ways that I think he should be cared for?
No, I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer only “I” that is living in me. I can trust Jesus to care for and love my husband when I fall so short. My prayers and my encouragement to seek Jesus are actually the best ways that I can show love, the true love of Christ. After all, HIS love never comes to an end:
Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. ~ Psalm 136:26
Would you join me in prayer? During this month where the world emphasizes love, we can pause with these four Scriptures and four prayers. And as we pray, we can know what loving well truly means. Jesus is the answer to the meaning of love.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
Thank you for your love that is eternal, everlasting, never-ending. Thank you for your kindness towards us, for drawing us into your very heart. Could it be that even here, in this place where pain and weakness seem to overwhelm us, you are drawing us to yourself? Show us how our weak places become the very ground to know your love more deeply. Help us to open our hearts to be drawn by you.
In the name of Your son, Jesus, we pray,
We praise you for your deep forgiveness for us! What love is this, that you would so willingly bring such deep mercy for us? Thank you for sending your love as we pray. Help us to turn toward you when we feel cut off. Help us to offer our wounded hearts to you, and to know that we can freely ask for your forgiveness. Bless these prayers that we bring to you now, and help us to rest in your love.
In the Name of Jesus, we pray,
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. John 15:9
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for giving the Father’s love to us. When we look at our own love, we see how we fall short. When we are so encumbered by our own pain, we wonder how we could ever show love to others. And yet you have given us the answer. Help us to remain in you, to stay in your love. Pour your love over us now, and help us as we lift prayers for those we care about. Show us how to share your love. We praise you, our true heart-love.
In your name we pray,
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for coming to this world and laying down your life for us. You have given everything to show us what true love looks like. Would you help us to know how to lay down our own lives for those we care about? In our days of weakness and illness, we feel so unable to give anything, and yet you have not stopped asking us to share our lives. Show us how the things that seem the smallest to us can be the greatest of gifts when given in love. Help us to pray, to share a kind word, and to gift a smile for the love of our brothers and sisters.
In your name we pray,
More Prayer Prompts
When chronic pain hits, we might wonder, “How can I have confident hope?”. But I soon learned that this hope comes from drawing ever closer to the One Who gives all hope. That is, Jesus!
Forever and ever, in the perfection of our life in the new heaven and new earth, our experience of your kindness will increase. This promise overwhelms the circuit board of my understanding, throws fuel on the fire of my longings, and reveals the paucity of my faith.
Chronic Joy® devotionals are an invitation to take one gentle step, to pray in a comforting and familiar or perhaps new-to-you way, or to cry out on behalf of one precious life today … maybe even yours.
Board Member and Prayer Coordinator
You can find Bettie blogging from her home in a small town in southeast Wisconsin - at bettiegsraseasons.com. She is walking forward with Jesus, in the middle of her own pain and weaknesses from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature is a joy that calls to Bettie, as do her family and nine young grandchildren. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great joy in their weekend coffee breaks together.