Purveyors of chocolate, makers of plush teddies and tacky pajamas, and restaurateurs everywhere are enjoying the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. But this yearly celebration of romantic love often produces more disappointments than diamond sales.
For women who are single, the holiday can be a painful reminder of unfulfilled hope. As you rounded the New Year corner and into the January-February stretch, all hopes of a romantic Valentine’s Day once again receded. Another year and your hopes seem more illusive than ever.
For women in difficult marriages Valentine’s Day can be a painful reminder of disappointed hope. You had hoped that your husband would be the man of your dreams: loving, caring, and a godly leader. But all the delicate hopes you brought into marriage feel crushed and this holiday only makes it worse.
Even women in strong, happy marriages can experience deflated hope on Valentine’s Day. You hope that this year your husband will plan something extra special. You hope he might remember to make the dinner reservation or that he will notice your new dress, this time. You hope he will get your hint that “romantic” means more to you than a $17 red-cellophane wrapped box of chocolates from the CVS.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Proverbs (13:12). And that is how Valentine’s Day may leave you feeling: sick to your heart.
Valentine’s day buckles under the weight of high hopes, just as marriage does. It will never satisfy all our desires and longings, because God created marriage, not as a hope-fulfiller, but as a picture of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-32).
That’s not to say, a happy marriage doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate and strive for the astonishing grace of a joy-filled, godly marriage. It doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to another Valentine’s Day of hopelessness and heart sickness.
But our disappointed expectations and our dashed hopes alike reveal that our hope has been misplaced. And God ordains our disappointments—big and small—in order that we may replace our hope on the one person who will never disappoint. Like the “holy women” of the past we are to hope in God (1 Pet. 3:5).
Hopes deferred aren’t a dead end, but a gracious redirect. They are a pointer to the “living hope:” our Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:3). Hope in God enables us to joyfully face the future, whether or not we get married, whether or not we have a happy marriage, whether or not this holiday is all we hoped for.
Underneath the cheap red cellophane of a hope-less Valentine’s Day lies a glorious opportunity: a chance to put our hope in God.