The Suffering of Love
Article taken from Fatherly Talk 5.19
I was meditating on the love of God throughout this week and realized that all our tears are caused by love. For example, we know that humans cry when they are sad or hurt but behind the sadness or hurt is either the parting (temporal or permanent) of a loved one or the loss of a loving relationship (rejection). Sorrow only came after the fall of mankind and will be eliminated in heaven (Genesis 3:16; Revelation 21:4). Imagine living in a world (heaven) where there is no sadness or tears. Only in perfection of love can such be possible.
We can examine scientifically the experience of sorrow but let us take some Bible examples to prove the point that all tears and sorrow are related to love (or the loss of it). There are implications of sorrow expressed in various places (eg. in the deaths of people) but we take only those where there is a direct mention of weeping or tears:
1. Hagar wept for she had just experienced rejection (partly her fault for despising her mistress) and alienation from Abraham’s family plus the potential loss of her child, Ishmael, whom she loved (Genesis 21:16).
2. Jacob had just left his home, possibly in his mind permanently, and having experienced rejection from his brother, lifted up his voice and wept when he saw Rachel (Genesis 29:11). He must have missed his mother, Rebekah who loved him exceedingly (Genesis 25:28). Loss of love and the finding of new love in Rachel brought forth tears to Jacob.
3. Joseph missed the love of home and father exceedingly and asked about his father when he saw his brothers (Genesis 43:27). He had some loved for his half brothers but when he saw his brother Benjamin, his family love was stirred and he rushed into his chamber to weep (Genesis 43:30). Joseph experienced anguish of soul when he was torn away from his family and sold by his brothers (Genesis 42:21). He especially named his son Manasseh (meaning making forgetful) because it took until he had a family in Egypt for him to forget all the loss of love of his family in Canaan (Genesis 41:51). Joseph suffered the loss of family love and especially his father’s favourite love over him when he was rejected and sold by his brothers; he must have cried many tears. When the possibility of love loss to at least be partially regained in his brother Benjamin, he was moved to tears. Indeed, we cry when we lose love and we cry when we find love. Love is the true reason we cry.
4. It is natural to cry at the loss of a loved one but when Aaron was freshly anointed for the Old Testament priesthood, he lost his sons Nadab and Abihu in one day at the temple sacrifice (Leviticus 10:1-3). Moses did not forbid Aaron from crying but he forbade him from leaving the tabernacle and joining the funeral of his sons lest he dishonoured the anointing oil upon him and died (Leviticus 10:6-7). Aaron was so sad that he and his remaining sons could not eat of the ritual sacrifices commanded of him (Leviticus 10:19). Aaron suffered the loss of love – the loss of his sons whom he loved dearly. Aaron refrained from food but in modern times some people are the opposite and turned to the love of food when they lose love. As if in a sub-conscious manner, the eating of foods they love would replace the love they lost. Aaron lost the love for and of his sons and it led to the loss of appetite for food. Sometimes people who lose love start losing the love for other things around them as well. Humans react in both extreme pendulums when they lose love – they either channel their lost love to the lost of interest in all things they loved or they subconsciously try to gain back the lost love by seeking to gain things as if they are a replacement of love lost. All the strange behaviours of human characters can be explained by these two extremes: an attempt to parallel the lost love by losing interest in all things or the opposite attempt to gain lost love by accumulating things, friends or environment to subconsciously gain back lost love or to hold to what little of love that is left, even if it is temporal things or circumstances. Humans were made to exist in an environment of love – receiving love and giving love. For that reason, any changes to this environment, whether it be a temporal loss of love or a physically permanent lost of love through the home-going of a loved one, will produce a measure of suffering and tears.
5. David was a man of great passion and love. Much as his own son, Absalom had tried to kill him, David still could not refrain from weeping uncontrollably when Absalom died (2 Samuel 18:33). He was in an emotionally fragile state for he had experienced the rejection of his son in his attempt to betray and overthrow David as king. He lost the love of his son and this lost of a love of a child for the parent is one of the most painful any parent (father or mother) can experienced. His son died without reconciliation and that lost of love becomes physically permanent for David. David lost the love of and from his son and it almost cost him the lost of the love of his army. In this imperfect world, we must accept our losses and continue living. Those who fail to do so become permanently disabled in their heart. There is physical disability which some people suffer from birth while others in life but such people continue on to be heroes in the eyes of God and in their own eyes and their loving families because they are wrapped in an environment of love. In society, those who overcome great physical disability and triumph over them are highly admired because they are an inspiration to others. However, such people would not have been able to do so without the loving help of others. Others are born mentally disabled and yet when placed in an environment of love are able to excel to a great extent. The worst is that of the disability of the heart of love. That is when the heart cannot accept the loss of love and drowns itself in extreme behaviour of the pendulum in rejecting all love for people and things or in settling for the shallow love of things or people. Not only will they experience the lost of love greater but they will also create new losses of love which will further damage their already crippled heart of love. Thank God, that King David was refrained from his excessive sorrow and did not suffer the further loss of the love of his loyal subjects.
Having established the understanding that all human suffering arises from the lost of love, we need to understand that when God chose to create and loved us, God also suffered each time we reject His love and walked in our own way. The heart of God was literally torn when He grieved over the state of mankind in the years before the flood (Genesis 6:6). If God could weep, the statement 『God grieved’ would have been equivalent to God shedding tears. Why did God grieved? After all, if a child made plasticine toys and it broke, a child can rub it altogether and start again. How much more God the creator of the universe! God grieved purely because He loved us. When one chooses to love, one potentially puts oneself in the position where that love can be rejected (loss of love) or where that love can be responded to with love (gain of love – joy).
God did cry! Through His son, Jesus when He was manifested in the flesh. Jesus was a man of tears (Hebrews 5:7). He was also known by people as the prophet Jeremiah because He is known to shed copious tears (Matthew 16:14). When He saw Jerusalem the last time as He approached it in His final days, He lamented over the city crying 『O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets and stone them, how I would have gathered the children like a mother hen gathering the chickens under her wings’ (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34). In other words, how Jesus longed to hug the whole of His people in Jerusalem in spite of her rejection of His love for them. God the Father suffered because He loved us. Jesus suffered on the cross for our sin because He loved us. The Holy Spirit is grieved and suffers because He loves us.
To love is to suffer the potential of the loss of love. Yet it is better to have loved than to have never loved at all. It is the fear of rejection of love that prevents many people from walking in love towards others. Having been hurt so much, they choose to no longer love to their eternal loss. It is because of rejection that people fear to love God and trust Him with their entire lives. Having not seen unconditional love amongst humans, it is difficult for them to believe that God so love us unconditionally. Also people have wrong concepts of the nature of God, which is why they don’t love God dearly. God will never and cannot ever reject you. For God is love (1 John 4:16). You cannot flee from the presence of God’s love. If you ascend to the heavens, He is there and even if you make your bed in hell, He is there (Psalm 139:7-9). We must be persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). There is no way God will ever stop loving us and there is no place we can go where His love cannot reach us. It is always us who reject God’s love. It is always us or other humans who separate us from God’s love. It is never God but we, ourselves, things, circumstances, people, demons and the devil who separates us from the love of God. But if we choose to always respond to His love, we will find love every where. But remember this, to love is also to suffer the potential of loss of love from others but never from God. So if there is any one whom we should always keep loving, it is God. Once divinely connected to a permanent state of love in God and towards God, we will find an everlasting supply of love. For we will never suffer the loss of love from God and this truth in itself should sustain our ability to love throughout our entire lives. It should undergird every pain and suffering that we need to endure when we choose to love unconditionally.
The greatest, yes indeed, the greatest is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
In Christ’s most precious love.
F.I.R. – 後樂園
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