“For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God . . .” (1 Thessalonians 3:9).

THOSE WHO BECOME CYNICAL ABOUT LOVE ARE FOOLS. The fact that we’re going to have to relinquish all of our loves in this world doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them deeply. And having already lost some of our cherished relationships, if they were virtuous we should never say we wish we’d never had them.

Consider, as a case study, Paul’s relationship with the church in Thessalonica. When Paul first came to that city, he was only able to stay there a short time. After less than a month, it was felt best for him to leave the city due to the intense persecution that had arisen. But Paul was not ready to leave. It grieved him to depart from those whom he had so quickly come to love. And when he wrote back to Thessalonica, he spoke openly of his sorrow, his concern, and his longing for the saints there: “when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy . . . to encourage you concerning your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:1,2). Paul was in agony over the difficulties these brethren faced. He longed desperately to see them and wasn’t sure if he would ever have that joy again. All things considered, Paul’s heart was broken, and that would never have happened if he’d never loved these people. But do you think Paul had any regrets? If you do, then you’ve seriously misjudged this man’s heart: “For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God.” Paul understood that, in this world, love is a bittersweet blessing.

The grief of loss is a part of the price that must be paid for the privilege of earthly love. Anyone who has ever truly loved understands this aspect of love. “Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! / Ae farewell, alas, for ever! / Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee, / Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!” (Robert Burns).

But love is worth it! Our great Father has placed within our earthly home many joys worth loving. When we love them, we are blessed. And what is more, when we love them deeply and truly, we are drawn to their Maker. That they must be given up, even sorrowfully, is a small price to pay for the glory that they lead to.

“Better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all” (Seneca).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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