Valentine’s Day is here. It’s a day when our society encourages couples to take the extra steps to show their love for one another. Give flowers. Give chocolates. Go out to dinner. Celebrate love.
Some of you reading this right now are lonely. Some have been abused or hurt deeply by a spouse. Some may be single without an earthly spouse. But all of us as Christians together have a heavenly husband, and oh how great is our Groom’s love toward us!
Scripture is full of the love of God — the cross being the supreme expression of that unfathomable love.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I don't know about you, but one of my biggest stumbling blocks in life is believing that God really does love me and that he is pleased with me. This constant insecurity I live with has been difficult on my marriage. At times, it drives me to lay down expectations my earthly husband was never intended to meet. On other occasions, it has driven me to doubt his love and his sincerity, not because of anything he has done, but because my doubt of God's love is transferred as doubt of my husband’s.
And then there are all the times that I try to earn my husband’s love because I just can’t seem to get it in my head that this dear man genuinely loves me unconditionally, without exception. His love has never depended on how I looked, how much I weighed, or what I had achieved in or out of the home. He just loves me.
God in his grace and providence gave me a husband who knows my doubting and has diligently reminded me of God's love over the years. He has even endured my mocking and scoffing as time and again he would quietly and gently relate: Jesus loves you, Luma.
One day in particular, about ten years ago, I insisted that those were trivial, meaningless words thrown around in our superficial evangelical society. My wise husband, who knows that thinking is one of my gifts, asked me if I would be willing to spend one full day meditating on that statement, Jesus loves you, Luma. I did. God, in his great mercy and love in Christ Jesus, has slowly made that statement blossom in my heart and mind little by little since that time.
I tend to be a more utilitarian woman, eschewing flowers and chocolates. But God has been using my husband over the years to soften me. Tulips are my favorite flowers, and I have begun buying them for myself and letting my husband know that I would rejoice to receive them. I have also started enjoying chocolate. Not that these are marks of my “arrival” at anything, only the evidences of the personal softening of my heart — a heart which too often has doubted the love of Jesus.
Embracing the gospel has freed me to trust the love of my earthly husband, who has always been good to speak to me the love of our heavenly husband.
The dinner, the flowers, and the chocolate may or may not be there, but it really doesn’t matter. The best Valentine’s gift I could ever receive is a husband who is constantly reminding me, Jesus loves you, Luma.
As someone who has lived a life of doubt in that statement, I want to encourage you today. No matter where you are in this life, or what circumstance you are dealing with regarding earthly love, meditate on this: Jesus loves you.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
More from Desiring God on the love of God (sermons by John Piper):