There are certain movies that beg to be quoted. “The Princess Bride” is one of them. One of my favorite lines comes when the princess’s long-lost love returns in disguise. Distrustful of him, she cries in anguish, “You mock my pain!” To which he responds, “Life is pain … Anyone who says differently is selling you something.”
He’s right. The world tries to sell painlessness. “Why exercise when you can take these pills?” “Why work when you can become rich in five easy steps?”
Even in love, Hollywood claims it only takes the right person to replace a life of misery. The way the world sees it, love not only avoids pain. It removes pain.
But not only does love fail to avoid pain, it can in fact cause pain. Even healthy marriages hurt. Strong families can suffer. Love makes life hard. But just because something is painful doesn’t mean it is bad. In fact, sometimes the very best things in life involve pain. Ask any mother.
Why does love hurt so much? And can true love really exist if it involves suffering? Here are three considerations to keep in mind:
1. Love hurts because we live in a sinful world
God created humans to love in a perfect environment. He gave Adam and Eve friendship, physical love, and family. It worked so well because it occurred between two perfect people. Love existed without sin. Thus, it existed without fear, betrayal, abuse, or rejection. Love existed without pain.
When sin entered the world, God took away most of what Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden. But He did not take away love. Love remained … but muddled by sin.
In this new sinful world, wives would still love their husbands, but now with the pain of infidelity and abuse. Mothers would still love their children, but with the pain of sickness, rejection, and scorn. Love remained, but in a cruel world.
And so, the love intended to cause joy as parents played with their kids now causes anguish as they lower them in the grave. The love meant for eternal bliss in marriage now causes heartbreak as an elderly man kisses his wife for the last time. Love hurts.
Love is a heavenly act done in an earthly setting. It hurts because God did not design it for this kind of world.
2. Love hurts because it has long-lasting impact
Love sticks with you. As much as society tries to teach that you can easily drop love from one person to the next, the bonds of loving relationships do not easily break. Memories endure.
Which is why it’s so hard to see a friend or relative struggle. You may not agree with them — or even understand them, but you still love them. Love hurts because one cannot quickly abandon it, even though sometimes we wish we could. Like a faded scar, the effects of love last long. Who doesn’t have a family member living in sin? Who hasn’t felt let down by their spouse? Love endures even through divorce, distance, and death.
Like all of His creation, God designed love to be eternal. Love hurts because it’s an eternal force functioning within a temporary reality. Love lasts, even if people don’t.
3. Love hurts because it feels the way god feels
Love hurts because it cares about what God cares about. God hates sin. Therefore, love hates sin, too. It’s hard to see those we care about affected by evil. Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died. He knew He would soon resurrect Lazarus in just a few minutes. So why cry? Jesus cried because of the effects of sin on His friend. Who hasn’t cried for similar reasons?
Love and sin are incompatible because God and sin are incompatible. Any person who holds real love for another has no choice but to see them the way God sees them. In this sense, love serves as the great connector between God and man. Pain, like love, unites us. Conclusion
Our world worships love. It desperately desires a cure for their pain. Despite what media says, love cannot and will not avoid pain. But love can bear pain.
Christ loved on the Cross by experiencing pain for us. His loved endured to the point of death, and three days later loved through death itself. God does not offer a pain-free life. But He does offers a love-filled life.
He kept love on this Earth because He knew He was not finished with us. He plans to bring back those whom He lost. Love is the language of Heaven. And there, that language will have no words in its vocabulary to describe pain. There will no longer be a need.
Pastor Stephen Angliss is pastor at Bayview Bible Church. He can be reached at 208-217-4046.