“We are never so vulnerable as when we love.”
I love this quote. The thing that I’ve been struggling with the most lately is the thought of being vulnerable while loving people and serving God, which I desire to do above all else.
There are two pressing arguments in my head that I cannot avoid. On one side is the argument that I must love people to the best of my ability even though there is the possibility of getting hurt, rejected, or persecuted. On the other side is the argument that I must not love at all so I avoid rejection and hurt, though I’d probably end up disappointing myself and God in the process. Either I can put myself out there and be hurt by others or I can keep to myself and also hurt myself.
The prophet Jeremiah experienced this sort of pain. Even though God warned him that he would be persecuted and hated by the Israelites while delivering God’s message to them, He still felt the weight of their rejection and the sorrow from seeing them in bondage because of sin.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty… I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?” (Jeremiah 15:16-18)
Despite the acknowledgment of this unbearable pain he was experiencing through his obedience to God, he still continued living out his calling. Why? Because God was with him every step of the way. After Jeremiah’s lament, God responds.
“If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me… I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you.” (Jeremiah 15:19, 20)
God knew the Israelites would fight against Jeremiah and reject his message. Did this change God’s desire for Jeremiah to obey? No. The sorrow that Jeremiah felt because of the Israelites’ sin was nothing compared to the sorrow God felt, and it was this sorrow that drove God to continue pursuing His people.
One thing we must remember is that the pain we experience through living out our calling and loving people in this world is nothing compared to the pain God has experienced through His love. This pain ultimately occurred on the cross. Even as Jesus foresaw this suffering and prayed for His Father to take the cup away, the cup of God’s wrath that would be poured out on Him as He died on the cross for all of mankind’s sin, He still knew what he had to do.
And I know what I have to do. I have to continue obeying by loving, even if such love causes tremendous pain.
We are going to face hurt and suffering in this world, both in our lives and from watching the lives of those around us. Turning our backs to protect ourselves only prevents us from glorifying God to the utmost and transforming into His Son who loved more than we ever could through selflessness, sacrifice, and suffering.
Pain is involved in loving, and that’s expected. So is joy. And purpose. And hope.
I know I still won’t be as bold in love as I should be, but I also know I don’t want to let my life go by without completing the calling God has put on my life to love His people. Because of that, I want to choose to love when I can and allow myself to receive forgiveness for the opportunities to love that I miss.
Will I be perfect at loving others? No. And that’s okay. Jesus is the only perfect lover, and we are simply given the gift of experiencing His love and giving out His love. Love is a gift from God, and you can’t mess that up, even when vulnerability is involved.
It’s true that we are never so vulnerable as when we love, and that’s what makes love all the more daring and beautiful.