Many years ago a friend remarked in a sermon that in order to forgive us, God had to give up on the idea that we would ever understand how deeply we had hurt Him. Since then, I have learned something else: in order to love us, God had to give up on the idea that we would ever love Him as He loves us.
Almost all of us have experienced the sorrow of unrequited love at some point in our lives. But that is all I have ever known. In my long life, I have never known what it is like for someone that I love deeply to love me in the same way that I love them.
The burden of this pain has been growing in recent years, and for reasons I don’t completely understand, it has become all but unbearable in the past few months. Yesterday the pain was so excruciating that I felt I could not go on, so I determined that I would fast and pray throughout the night last night, hoping there would be some way to “lance the boil,” so to speak.
And so, throughout the long watches of the night, I prayed with more fervent pleas than ever before.
Dear God and the Giver of Life, I beg you with all of my broken heart, is there some decision I have been postponing that I need to make tonight? Is there some commitment that I have been withholding from You that I could now make? Is there some fundamental insight that I have not grasped? I will do anything for you, Lord, if I just know what it is. I can’t go on without some kind of relief. I beg you to help see what it is that I need to do.
Well, after perhaps the longest and most painful night of my life, the relief came in the form of an insight. When it came — and I finally saw the full, sorrowful significance of it — I turned and looked at the clock beside my bed. Through my tears, I noticed that the time was 4:26 AM.
The Lord had not spoken to me audibly, of course, but here is something like what I believe He would have said in answer to my pleas.
Gary, my son, you have never been loved as you wanted to be loved — and neither have I. I have longed for you to love Me with a love that is akin to the love I have for you, but you have not done so. It has broken My heart. I have longed for you to love me with a love that responds to Mine, openly and fully. So my sorrow, like yours, has been the sorrow of unrequited love. But I have continued to love you anyway.
I have led you down a difficult path for sixty-six years, hoping you would learn a little of what it has been like for Me to love you. If you have now seen the point, that is good. But I will ask you to finish out your earthly days without any relief from the pain.
You are a sojourner, a solitary wanderer in this world. You could not do the work you are doing for Me if you did not live alone. So you will never, in this world, be loved as you long to be. But in the years you have left, I want you to spread the message. I want you to teach others that when it comes to love, it is more blessed to give than to receive.
There will come a time when the pain will be over, and I will bring you home. I will be waiting for you. You will see My face. And you will know the love you have dreamed of . . . and much, much more.
Well, as I have indicated, it was 4:26 AM when this insight came to me, and I thought, “What is there about the number 4:26 that is so eerie?”
And then it occurred to me. It was 4/26 — April 26, 1999 — when I took the vow which has meant, ever since, that it must be Christ alone in whom my hope is set.
The pain of unrequited love will never be any less, but at least I now see more of what is to be learned from it.
I am learning more of what it has meant for the Lord to love me — and I could not, I think, have learned this as deeply if my circumstances had been more fulfilling.
So I will not close my heart, run away from the pain, or waste any of the days I have left trying to ameliorate it. I will embrace the sorrow and learn all it has to teach.
And in His time, I will find peace and rest with the Lord who died for me, His very slow-to-learn student.
Gary Henry – WordPoints.com