Love Suffers: It Must!

Hurt, woundedness, death are all a part of love. If not, in fact, a prerequisite to it. There can be no life without death, and no resurrection without crucifixion. We hurt, wound, insult, inflict pain upon God and yet, He loves us. Hence, so we do also to one another.  This is nowhere more evident than in marriage.  Or, at least, in mine. It is a tragic mental misconception that we adopted when we equate the fact that we hurt, wound, and inflict pain upon one another as evidence that we don’t love one another.  Somewhere, with us, it became a marital more’ that if someone hurts us, they must not love us.  This is not true and not a biblical principle.  Love requires suffering.  Love is bloody and painful and hurtful. These are oftentimes the characteristics of love and not evidence that there is no love.  More often than not, it is the pain and the wound that leads to death and this then leads to life.

When I hurt Rina, she can respond in three ways: return the pain (evil for evil), attempt to control whereas to not get hurt again (witchcraft) or die!  Death in marriage, at least in mine, is an essential.  It is the only option for us that will produce life.  The evil for evil, hurt you because you hurt me option, only exacerbates the problem.  The second, that of “promise me you will never do this EVER AGAIN!”  Only puts a temporary band aid on the problem and worsens the wound the next time I rip it off without warning.  The final, death, is the only option for us.  Why is death to self the only option?  Dead people don’t care what the other person does (“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead…”(Romans 6:11)) They don’t care because they can’t care, they are dead!  It is impossible for a dead person to be selfish, they just don’t have that capability.  Only living people have it.  While we live in hurt, pain, and woundedness we react out of that power base. Death is essential and it does not come easy. It hurts. It hurt Jesus. It hurts my wife. It takes a long time and I do it without even thinking about it.

We cant help but hurt one another. We are all “by nature children of wrath.” (Eph 2:3) We innately serve this inner nature that will, by its very existence, hurt and wound and kill the very people that we profess to love the most.  It is a fact of marriage!  I will hurt her, she will hurt me, and we will do this unintentionally most of the time.  We will hurt and wound and not even realize that we are doing it.  But it will happen and I must respond to it. I must allow myself to be crucified by the one I love the most. By the very one who vowed before God to love me above all others. I must allow that person to destroy me because it is only out of that death that life can come. I am to consider self as dead.  Dead men don’t grumble, they don’t complain, the don’t retaliate, they don’t seek to control or to protect themselves against the next onslaught of inevitable emotional pain. They are simply, unequivocally, and unapologetically: Dead!

“So death is working in us…” (2 Corinthians 4:12), this was Paul’s description of the spiritual life of the apostolic minister.  When the apostle would die to self life would be manifest in others.  The rest of the verse (2 Cor 2:4:12) says, “but life in you”.  Our sacrifice produces life in others.

There is freedom in death for both parties. Death in her produces life in me and likewise, death in me produces life in her and likewise, the death of Christ produced life for us all. This is the mystery that Paul tells us. (Ephesians 5:22) If you love your wife you will be hurt, wounded, and even killed without mercy. If you love your husband, you will be hurt, wounded and even killed without mercy. Jesus loves us and was hurt, wounded and crucified without mercy. This is love: the very first description of it is “suffers long.” (I cor 13:5 ) The Greek means this: “to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.” This is the very first description of what love “is” in the biblical narrative.

What does love do in the face of suffering. Does it return evil for evil? Does it seek to control to prevent pain from reoccuring? No. In return, it is “kind.” When “Goodness” becomes action it manifests itself as kindness. This produces life. Love suffers insults, pain, and woundedness and in return, it is kind even in the face of insult, injury, and pain.   That is only possible for me if I am dead.  Dead to selfish reflections of pain and hurt.  Dead to the obsession over how careless she can be.  Only then, can the Holy Spirit in me manifest itself as kindness.  And she also, must be dead to the wound that I continually pour salt upon.  Dead to the empty promises and dead to the fact that this will inevitably happen again.  Dead to the fact that she will be crucified and afterwards, I will be the one holding the hammer.  Then, and only then, can she reflect kindness.  This produces life in me. But, and to the point at hand, the wound and the pain are a prerequisite.  Life from death. That is love. That produces life.  That is our marriage. That is Jesus Christ!