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 sometimes produces more disappointments than diamond sales.
The holiday can be a painful reminder of unfulfilled hope for women who are single. For women in difficult marriages Valentine’s Day brings to the surface disappointed hopes. Even in a strong, happy marriage, women can experience deflated hope on Valentine’s Day.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12).
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).
Our disappointed hopes 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.
If Valentine’s Day magnifies our misplaced hopes, we must put our hope in God (1 Pet. 3:5). We do this by focusing on all that God promises to be for us in Jesus Christ.
Our difficulties will be “unbearable” writes Martin Luther, “if you are uncertain that God is for you and with you.”
God is for you. He is working for your good on this Valentine’s Day.
Once he was against you. The full fury of his wrath was set against your sin. But he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the justifiable “against-ness” of God. Through the cross we have not only received forgiveness but all the “for-ness” of God in Christ Jesus.
Our hope in pain:
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
No uncertainty here. This I know. God is for me.
And God is with you.
“[F]or he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6)
He is not watching your pain from a distance, just out of sight. He is “near” (Ps. 34;18). He is near to comfort, near to encourage, near to strengthen, near to bless.
John Piper writes: “When you think he is farthest from you, or has even turned against you, the truth is that as you cling to him, he is laying foundation stones of greater happiness in your life.”
What may seem like a difficult holiday is really another “foundation stone of greater happiness,” lovingly laid by the Savior.
God is with us. He is for us. He is our hope this Valentine’s Day.
Underneath the cheap red cellophane of a hope-less Valentine’s Day lies a glorious opportunity: a chance to put our hope in God.