There is a song by Andrew Peterson of that title. I chose to include this song in my wedding ceremony and it was our first dance at our reception. The title may seem perfectly fitting, but it was actually a less-than-obvious choice once you look at some of the lyrics: “It’ll fall like rain on your parade, laugh at the plans that you tried to make. It’ll wear you down till your heart just breaks and it’s a good thing. Love is a good thing.” I thought this was insightful, because love doesn’t always feel good, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good thing!
I couldn’t listen to this song for months after my divorce, and I never thought that I could enjoy its sentiments again, but through time and healing, I’m once again able to smile and chuckle when I hear “It can hurt like a blast from a hand grenade when all that used to matter is blown away. There in the middle of the mess it made you’ll find a good thing. Yes, it’s worth every penny of the price you pay. It’s a good thing.”That hand grenade aftermath is certainly what life felt like for a while! But now, as I’ve picked up the pieces and look around at what’s left, I can still see the blessings of this gift that God has given each of us. That gift of love is a good thing.
You may be aware that Greek (the language of the New Testament) has multiple words for what we label as “love”. Scripture describes the (Agape – selfless) love that God has for us in some beautiful ways. Take 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 as an example: “Love is patient; love is kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” That is the love that God gives us! We sinful humans are not capable of this sort of love! We might be able to handle a couple of these on a good day, but we will eventually be impatient, unkind, rude, and who knows what else to people – even those we love dearly! Anything that we see in this world is merely a (poor) reflection of the love we receive from God. Even if that reflection is flawed, love itself is still a good thing.
It’s easy to fall into Satan’s lie that these verses cannot hold truth because we see so much in this world that leads us to believe that love is too destructive to be trusted. We’ve heard it sung that “love stinks…” Most of us have been burned by love before. (Andrew Peterson even sings “It’ll burn you like a cinder till you’re tender to the touch.”) The pain can be debilitating when you’ve allowed yourself to be vulnerable, and it becomes much more comfortable to keep walls up rather than allowing anyone else the opportunity to hurt you again. As someone who keeps thinking that she’s put that mentality behind her only to find yet another wall, I suggest keeping a sturdy wrecking ball in your back pocket at all times. It is very likely that we will be hurt again; love between imperfect people will never be perfect, but it’s okay, it is still a good thing.
I don’t claim to know everyone’s pain; in fact, I’ve led a pretty comfortable life. When I have faced pain, though, I’ve been so incredibly blessed by the love of family and friends which has been a sort of salve on the wounds rendered by those whose flawed love failed me. I know that this healing love that they have shared is God’s doing. The love that God has filled me with for my daughter has been one of my life preservers when I felt like I could barely stay above water. I know that there will be times that I fail her (which may or may not coincide with the days where she doesn’t seem to be overflowing with love for me). I pray that in those times, she also can look to God’s love as a source of hope and comfort. We will always have the perfect, unconditional, and unending love of our Heavenly Father to lean on! Love (especially God’s love) will always be a good thing.
I look in my concordance and it’s staggering how many times the word “steadfast” accompanies the word “love”. We can trust in God’s love, even when we have been failed by love that was meant to mirror the love that God gives. God tells us through Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10) It seems pretty simple, right? Straightforward? Yeah. Until we try to put it into action! We know God’s love is steadfast, but ours is pretty hit-or-miss. But you know what? Even when we miss, whenever we are aiming for love it’s a good thing.
Even if you and your spouse are completely and utterly failing at selfless love right now – you can trust in God’s love. Only God can change hearts and re-mold us into a better reflection of Him. Even if you are growing frustrated and weary waiting for the love that you see so many around you have found – you can trust in God’s love. I’m not going to give you some cliche about “dating Jesus”, or try to make you feel guilty about “God not being enough for you.” I know that you can be faithful and frustrated at the same time. Instead, I leave you with this: God sees your pain, and He cares about your pain. You will never need to face this pain alone. That constant presence is part of God’s love for you, and it’s a good thing.
And now, one more reminder of that perfect love that we are to be modeling to the world around us: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” – 1 John 4:7-12
With utterly imperfect, yet entirely sincere love,
Tara Barrett, DCE