God’s Special Valentine

Here we are again at another time of the year that can be especially difficult for widows. It seems all the cultural focus, both inside and outside the church, is on love, couples, and special events. And we thought Christmas was hard! This particular holiday only serves to remind us that we are no longer part of a couple. We are a stand-alone heart. We don’t feel like someone special who belongs to someone special.

Here are some fun facts about Valentine’s Day, traditionally celebrated on February 14th.

  • $25.9 Billion: Total Valentine’s Day spending in 2023
  • $5.5 Billion: Amount Americans will spend on jewelry.
  • $4.4 Billion: Amount Americans will spend on a special evening out.
  • Roughly 6 million people get engaged on Valentine’s Day.
  • Around 224 million roses are grown specifically for Valentine’s Day
  • Men will spend almost twice as much as women, on average, for Valentine’s Day
  • According to Hallmark, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.
  • Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.
  • The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
  • By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.

Such a long-standing cultural practice is hardly going to change much or disappear anytime in the near future. So how can we “refocus” this particular holiday to have a meaning that will touch our hearts in a positive way, and that will remind us of who we belong to?

We’ve often heard the question asked, “What is love?” Many people wonder how they will know love when they find it. Fortunately, the Bible gives us a beautiful description of love in the well-known “love chapter” of the Bible: I Corinthians 13:

“If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give away all my possessions to charity, and if I surrender my body so that I may glory, but do not have love, it does me no good.

 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant.  It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away with; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away with.  For we know in part and prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away with.  When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.  But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

This is love at its purest. I wonder how many of those spending billions of dollars on a cultural holiday have understood this kind of sacrificial love. If we have known this kind of love, we are indeed blessed. The good news for each of us is that Jesus has already demonstrated this kind of love. He tells us that the expression of this love for each other is to be the hallmark of our knowing Him.

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34b-35

This kind of love is about being loved at the deepest levels, and then turning to love others in that same way. While candy and flowers and beautiful cards are lovely to receive, true love is as much about giving sacrificially as it is about receiving anything.

As we look at another Valentine’s Day, it would be easy to allow our thoughts to drift to all that we’ve lost once again…all that everyone else SEEMS to have that we no longer have. Let me encourage you to look around you for who needs love right now. How can you allow the love of Christ to pour through you to touch another hurting heart? I was reminded as I wrote today, of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Let me share it with you here.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

As always, your comments are welcome, and you can email me at sheryl@freshhope.us.

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