Next week people around the world will be celebrating Valentine’s Day, a time for expressing our love to those special people in our lives, whether they be lovers, parents, children or friends.
Love is the theme of countless poems, songs and books written down through the ages. Many years ago Elizabeth Barrett Browning asked in her famous sonnet, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Paul the Apostle, in his famous letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 13), tells us what true love is – and is not.
John the Apostle tells us that it’s not enough to tell others that we love them, we have to show them that we love them (I John 3:18).
If we put all these writings together, we will find that they apply to every relationship we have that involves any type of love. We might say that we have love for others, but do others really see the love that comes from us?
I think one of the most beautiful displays of love comes when I see an older couple who have weathered the storms that come with many years of marriage walking down the street, holding hands as if they were teenagers or newlyweds.
Very few of the storms of most marriages are because of disagreements between husband and wife. The really big storms that might have to be lived through could be financial difficulties, serious illnesses, career challenges or the loss of loved ones.
But seeing a couple who has managed to survive those storms together brings an inspiration that more young people need to see before they run off to the divorce court.
The other day I heard a woman who has been married more than 60 years to the same man say that she had been reading a book to her husband while he recovers from a serious illness. Anyone who looks at this couple can see the devotion they have for each other.
Another husband and wife that I know, married nearly 70 years, are facing serious health problems. But the husband has determined that he will not stop taking care of his beloved wife, even when health problems of his own knock him down for a time. His vow of taking care of her “in sickness and in health” is as strong today as the day they said “I do.”
Still another couple, who have already lost children and grandchildren, are holding on to their faith in God as they continue to hold on to each other. They are going through a financial crisis coupled with health problems right now, but are trusting God to take care of them and provide all of their needs.
These couples are shining examples of what true love is all about. I am sure they still have a sense of romance in their marriage that is special and unique to each of them. But they have found the secret of true love, that it is not only about romance, but about taking care of the day to day needs as well as weathering the big storms of life – together.
I believe these couples have found the real meaning of love as St. Paul, St. John and Browning each described it, because they have found the secret of including the Lord in their marriage, proving the words of King Solomon when he said, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
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Thought for the week — Love is not only something you feel; it is something you do. (David Wilkerson)