I read a story about a 4-year-old boy who was waiting with his mother in the doctor’s office. They were discussing the kinds of earth-shaking issues that concern a four-year old in a doctor’s office. Issues like, “What am I doing here?” and “Where’s the doctor?” and “Why isn’t God married?” and “Does the doctor ever get sick?” – that kind of stuff. Finally the child asked the ultimate question: “Why doesn’t God just get tired and stop?” His mom had to think for several moments. Finally she said, “God is love, and love never gets tired.” I think I know what that mom meant, and I would never try to undermine her noble attempt to her help little boy understand how hard and how long, true God-like love will work. The beautiful and immortal words of 1 Corinthians 13 describe a kind of love modern America as a culture has lost touch with – “Love suffers long and is kind . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (verses 4-7). But as I reflect on all the Bible teaches about love, I think it is reasonable to say that while true love will never quit, it does, indeed, at times grow tired. Very tired. In a section of Scripture discussing the dramatic difference love and hatred have on life and relationships between people, the apostle John wrote these arresting words sixty years after he witnessed Jesus suffering on the cross – “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). The context and background from which John penned these words reveal that some in John’s day were as confused about the nature of true love as they are today. Some, apparently in close proximity to or perhaps even in the church, were not loving the brethren, and John equates that with hatred. We don’t have space to examine all that is behind John’s statements. But if you read 1 John you can’t help but wonder if the reason some in John’s day were no longer loving was because they just found it too tiring to continue? Life in the church or marriage or any other human relationship can wear you down, especially when you love enough to hang in there and suffer long! Selfish love often quits as soon ass it begins to suffer or get tired.
Years ago I was blessed – and challenged – by words in a church bulletin article by Bro. John Gipson entitled, “When Love Gets Tired.” He began by quoting Ephesians 5:1-2 where Christians are called to “follow (imitate) God and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering … to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Bro. Gipson then wrote words that continue to grip me: “. . . love is sometimes more troublesome and worrisome than wonderful, and loving others as Christ loved us often involves the doing of some things that must be done in the name of love: helping with the dishes, folding the laundry, disciplining the kids, and paying the bills. And even when the tasks are a lot more serious – involving real courage and sacrifice – the truth remains the same, the ultimate example was set for us 2,000 years ago. His anguished prayer in Gethsemane makes it clear that Jesus didn’t love dying. But He definitely died loving.” Jesus was tired by the time He died, but, to borrow words from John 13:1b, “He loved them to the end.” The plain truth is that love that sticks around only when things feel good and pleasing and easy – whatever that kind of love is, it is not the God-like kind that suffers long. No, Jesus didn’t love dying. But the cross forever proclaims He loved us till His dying breath. It’s okay to be tired, but don’t ever quit loving.