This is the question that lurked in the back of my mind for years. It remains without a definitive answer, but I think the answer is “no.” It is easy to love the loveable. It is easy to love during times of ease and comfort. Most of us are able to show love when love is being shown to us, provided we understand it as such. Jesus said this.
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matt 5:44-46 NASB)
Love is proven in hardship and conflict. How can we know its depth if it is never tested? The testing may come in many forms. Strife is certainly one of the most common. We are selfish people who tend toward evil means of getting what we want or think we deserve. Another way the tests come is through the choices we make. What happens when we must choose between what we want or need and what is best for those whom we claim to love? I think I would call this the ultimate test, since it is our choices that both illustrate and shape our character and our outlook on life.
There is no greater example than Jesus Himself. From Adam until now we test His love to the breaking point with all the evil that we do, yet “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8.) That He does not simply withdraw His sustaining power from us and thereby terminate our existence is prove of His love. That He goes further and gives us any tangible evidence at all is mercy beyond measure.
I’ve been thinking about this because of something that came up last week. I don’t feel free to talk about it, so I am going to put it in very general terms. Some of you may know about the efforts that Linda has been making to get a treatment done that is helping many sufferers of multiple sclerosis. Having had unsatisfactory results with what we were able to get locally we have decided to travel to a place where they have been doing them regularly in hopes of a better outcome. It is our hope that as living proof she can get something started here for others who are not free to travel elsewhere. Linda has been looking forward to this trip.
Last week I learned that someone very close to me might need a fairly costly medical procedure. Thinking at first that the situation was graver than it appears to be, Linda offered to postpone her own treatment so that we could afford to help. This blew me away. I did not ask for that and was not even contemplating it. If I imagined a test of love, I would have said it was putting up with my moodiness as I wrestled with a number of difficult things.
What I am learning is that my wife is of such quality that I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t even seem like a test to her. It didn’t’ take her very long to make the decision. I don’t think she knew how much it would mean to me for her to do that. It meant a lot! My love and respect for her has reached a whole new level. I feel like I got married all over again to the most wonderful woman in the world. Upon further consideration with more of the facts in front of us we will continue with getting Linda the care she needs, but I will never forget what she did.