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To Love is To Hurt

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

by Ryan S.

If you want to really live, you must love. If you really love, you will hurt.

Many of us have seen this quote by C. S. Lewis, but whether you have or not, it is worth a fresh look:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

C. S. Lewis

To really be alive one must accept suffering as a part of life.

To love means to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable will result in hurt.

To shut oneself away from the world of suffering is only possible by being numb or indifferent to the needs around us. Therefore, to fully experience life with all of its amazing zest, one must accept its bitterness.

Is it really better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all?

I think so. I am merely basing that statement on my own experiences. Losing my daughter (and watching her suffer for 18 years before we lost her) was agonizing at times. Yet, I am so grateful to have known her. I believe that she is still alive and at peace with the Lord. My love for her was more profound than any earthly love I could have ever imagined having, that is before I had children. However much I thought I loved her before, once she was gone, I realize even more how deep was the well of that love.

Speaking of profound, Peter shares something with pastors that we can all take to heart. He reminds us that although we will suffer a little while on this earth, eternal glory awaits us.

The original context involves Peter encouraging folks that were serving the Lord in the face of persecution. His emphasis in this passage is on the temporal nature of suffering. In 2 Corinthian 4:7-15 Paul develops this idea in much more detail:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

What Paul calls a “light affliction” was by no means easy in itself. First century believers faced all the hardships of finances, illness, and social pressures that we face today. They were also beaten, imprisoned, and put to death for their testimony in Christ. Paul is making a contrast here. Although the suffering can be quite intense, in comparison with the unseen reality of eternity that awaits the faithful, it is “light.” It is “but for a moment.”

Perhaps the most disturbing suffering on earth today is the suffering of the innocent. Likewise, the suffering of those whom you love can be overwhelming. Furthermore, the suffering caused by those whom we love, whether intentional or not, can shake our faith. It may even tempt us to box ourselves up in a room somewhere and avoid getting close to people in order to avoid sharing in their sufferings or being hurt by them.

The theologian, Jürge Moltmann, has stated, “One withdraws into a cell, boxes oneself in, locks oneself up in order not to be exposed to suffering, and passes life by. One really doesn't live anymore but grows stiff in a living body” (“The Passion of Life, p. 4). Our society teaches us that we can be happy if we are successful. We need financial security and good health. We need the admiration of other people. However, if we stop short of truly loving and giving of ourselves, we cannot find true fulfillment and our “happiness” is a ruse. Moltmann continues:

We strive for a life without suffering, for joy without pain, for enjoyment without regret,

for community without conflict. That is what we call "good fortune." With such good

fortune the capable and successful, the people of achievement, are rewarded among us

— apparently. I say "apparently" because it is not true; it is rather a public lie…. He who

trusts the promises of the gods of work and accomplishment can perhaps attain a life

without pain and without conflicts, but he must pay bitterly for it. He becomes an

apathetic person, and though still alive, he slowly and surely dies inwardly (5).

The Christian believer must come to terms with a passionate God. God created humans with a free will. It is His passion to interact with his free creatures. He formed a covenant relationship with a group of people that failed him time and again. He never stopped loving them, but his love was coupled with disappointment. The incarnation took this passion to an entirely different level. In Christ, God loved people around him with a perfect human love as he interacted with them in ordinary human ways. He manifested his infinite and divine love with his sufferings of the Passion Week. It was passionate love for his creatures that drove him to endure the crucifixion.

Any parent that has a child that is suffering due to an incurable disease knows something about this kind of suffering. A father will willingly suffer by opening his heart up even more for this child. A mother will spend hours loving and caressing a hurting child. In doing so, she also suffers; however, it is a pain that she would rather endure than escape from in order to have the opportunity to love that child even more. All of the suffering that those parents accept is considered a worthwhile trade for the comfort that child receives.

Moltmann takes this idea even deeper when he explores the notion about God suffering with those who are suffering. He talks about God suffering in concentration camps and gas chambers in recent history. The passion of the Christ demonstrates how God willingly chose to participate in the sufferings that sin brings to the human race. Yet, he suffered the cross because of his passion for life. “Wounds are healed by wounds;” God did not destroy sin by his superior power alone, but by suffering. “By his stripes we are healed.”

The point is that if we are going to live in this world as God intends, there will likely be some collateral damage to our own hearts and minds. To serve and love others will result in pain. To be like Christ may mean to suffer at times, but it is a full life. However, it is only temporary. And the eternal weight of glory that awaits us in eternity is well worth the suffering that is only for a little while.

Don’t look at suffering as a great evil that we must spend our greatest efforts doing what we can to escape; rather, see suffering as a necessary evil, at least for the time being, to aid us in becoming like Christ. See it as a temporary by-product of love. See passion as a two-sided coin. We look forward to the promise of no more tears, death, and disease. In the mean-time, we participate in the passion of our Lord, which includes unconditional love and at times, suffering.

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