When Love is Hard

Let’s be honest, love is hard.

It’s been a week. The flowers are wilting and the candy is nearly gone. The sweet messages in the Valentine cards are mostly forgotten.

All that’s not forged through hard love is short-lived.

For most of us, the fragrant aroma of love’s soft side is brief and doesn’t last. Life gets in the way. Trials and challenges arise. Instead of sweet messages, words of anger are spit forth. Hard love often leaves a bitter taste.

Why can’t love remain sweet all the time? Why does love have to be so hard?

Sin has changed what love is from the inside out. The post-fall love, that we know so well, is all about ourselves. It’s about getting what we want and having our own needs met. It’s seeking our own interests and looking down on others. The love of human nature is static and stale, ending in pain and sorrow.

Jesus came to rescue us from sin and to show us God’s always and forever love. He came to live out the love that the Father, Son and Spirit have known for all of eternity past. This love is described in the Bible as self-sacrifice, humility, and limitless generosity. It’s walking the path Jesus laid when he left his royal home to live in poverty. It’s following the One who had no real home; no place to lay his head. It’s loving the way Jesus did as he dined with sinners and loved the unloveable. It’s carrying our own crosses and forgiving those who hurt and reject us. It’s dying to self because Jesus died for us.

Sometimes though, it seems easier to give up on love than to give up everything for love.

When love seems too hard, remember this, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) It’s because you’ve been loved in this way that you are able to love even when it’s difficult. When the sting of love smarts as you turn the other cheek to a friend who gossiped behind your back, remember the One who turned his for you. When you’ve forgiven 490 times and don’t think you can once more, remember the number of times you’ve been forgiven. And when the flowers dry up and the love seems all but gone, know that Jesus’ love is greater than all your weaknesses.

It’s only hard love that walks through fire and comes through it radiant and beautiful. It was hard love that died for the lost and rose again, granting us the gift of a forever and perfect love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

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