Copyright © 2014
by Ralph F.Couey
Why does love hurt?
How can it be that something so good, which feels so wonderful can become a knife to the heart?
Love is not a thing that begins suddenly. It is a journey, one that begins slowly and subtly, sometimes one doesn’t even realize that the journey has begun.
It is a journey less defined as an afternoon walk, and more like a long, sustained hike. Sometimes the way is easy, flat, level, the sun shining and the air comfortable. Other times, it becomes a steep climb, the trail strewn with large, sharp rocks. At times, the trail appears to split into multiple paths, forcing a choice which will define the remainder of the hike.
But whatever else it may seem, love means that whatever the conditions, the journey is never made alone.
We walk together, we climb together; together we ford the rapid streams. Together, we inch along precipitous cliffs, and persevere under storms, cold, or severe heat.
Always ahead is the destination. No one never knows exactly what or where that may be. This trail is not drawn clearly on any map. It must be made in faith.
Success in love means being stubborn. Not because we want our own way, but that when the trail gets hard, we refuse to surrender. When our co-traveler needs help, we extend our hand, even if it means going back to retrace the steps. And if one of us falls off the trail, the other stays with us, helps us up, and gets us going again.
But love is never perfect among people. Always it must joust and spar with the imperfections we all possess. When we get in the way of our love, then our partner must be willing to forgive.
Vengeance breeds hate. Paybacks only create the desire for even more counterstrikes. And what was a meadow of joy and comfort, becomes a war-torn battlefield into which both bleed.
No human can create perfect love. We need the example, the model, the template.
We need Jesus.
Jesus loved without limits, without judgment. He forgave his enemies, even those who tortured Him and put Him to an agonizing death. He showed us what real love truly is.
We know that Jesus’ trail led to the cross. In three years of selfless service, of joyful ministry, He left behind in his wake those who had been healed of the illnesses of body and spirit, those who had been forgiven their sins. And even those who had experienced human death. But even after all that good, Jesus went to the cross, took upon himself all our sins, and died, only to rise again in three days.
So when love makes you sad or angry; when love puts you in an agony so severe you think you may die; when love makes you want to give up and leave, remember the path trod by the Master. Remember that He preached, taught, ministered, healed, and restored life for love; that He stood against all the power of government and religion for love; and that in the end, He suffered and died for love.
Remember that after his death, his disciples walked his path, a path that led to torture, imprisonment, and for nearly all of them, violent death. Yet they walked that path of pain for love. You see, they not only loved Jesus, they knew that He would always love them.
In this Christmas season, remember Him. And when the people you love put you to the test, make the promise that you, too will walk the path to the cross.
That you will do this…