The Cost of Love
Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
To quote the words of a once popular song by the band Nazareth, “Love hurts, love scars, love wounds.” That is the cost of love. To risk loving someone is to risk bringing pain and suffering upon ourselves, because what hurts those we love, hurts us as well. Our lives are intertwined with those we love. Their laughter, their tears, their heartaches, their fears, their sickness, their pain, their sorrow, their shame; all are lived in us. The 12th century poet and philosopher Yehuda HaLevi wrote:
“Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch
A fearful thing to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
And oh, to lose.
Tis a human thing, to love, a holy thing, to love
What death has touched.”
I couldn’t help but see the correlation of God’s pain and suffering due to death’s touch upon us in this poem. God knew what the cost of loving us would be, and yet he chose to do so anyhow. He knew the hurt, the scars, and the wounds that it would bring. It was a holy thing for God to love what death had touched. God knew death could touch us, would touch us, and in touching us, would in a sense touch him as well. Isaiah 53: 4-5 tells us, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows … He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” Because God loved us, rather than allow us to taste death, He tasted death for us. (Hebrews 2:9). God counted the cost of loving us, and paid it in full. In our enthusiasm of the unconditional gift of God’s grace to us, I think we sometimes tend to forget the price he paid for it. I realize we don’t want the image I chose for this blog to represent Christmas, but this is the image that most accurately does. We want a sweet little baby lying in a manger. We want pretty presents tied up with a bow. We want Christmas trees and Santa Claus, but this is the real picture of God’s gift to us. No bow on this package.
“Tis a human thing, love.” God not only loved us in his omnipotence, he loved us in his humanity. In Jesus, he put his love in human form and made his love relatable to us, showing us the love of a father for his son, telling us, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17). Every parent can relate to the cost of loving a child. They start paying the price the moment their child is born. Every hurt, every sadness, every disappointment, every suffering their child feels throughout their life, they feel as well. Every touch of death upon their children’s lives, touches them. Our children, just as God’s children, sometimes forget what it costs their parents to love them. They forget their parents not only counted the cost of loving them, but were willing to pay it all their lives. With grieving hearts, countless fears, worn out knees from endless prayers, hearts pierced through with holy pain, thrusting time and time again, willingly they pay the price, to become love’s sacrifice. It is a holy thing, this love between a parent and their child. It is a God thing. Simeon prophesied to Mary of this holy pain, this human pain, that would one day pierce her heart concerning the child she would bear, saying to her, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Mary knew this holy, human love that pierces the heart of child and parent as one, as she helplessly stood by and watched her son suffer beyond that of any man. He was the Son of God, but he was her son as well, and she felt the pain of his suffering like no other human possibly could.
The Song of Solomon declares, “For love is strong as death.” Love cannot be killed by time or disaster. Love cannot be killed by death. Though death can touch what we love, it cannot destroy love. God knew this. He knew that although death might touch us, it could not touch his love for us. In that surety was death’s defeat. How much did it cost? “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son.” (John 3:16). It cost him physical pain, it cost him agony of heart, it cost him scars upon his back, it cost him wounds in his hands and his feet, it cost him humiliation and shame, it cost him suffering beyond compare. Every moment of suffering his son endured upon that cross, his father suffered and endured with him. That is the cost for God to love what death had touched, and he willingly paid it for us all. God’s grace to us in Jesus is not just a means for God to overlook our sins. God’s grace to us is God’s love for us. It’s his wounds, his scars, and his suffering for us. It’s a fearful thing. It’s a holy thing. It’s the cost of his love. This is what the celebration of Christ’s birth is all about. It’s not about us, even though we’ve made it to be so. It is about celebrating the gift of God’s grace to us, but it’s also about how much that gift cost. A gift isn’t appreciated unless the cost is. A steep price was paid for God to love what death had touched. Amid all our Christmas celebrating we need to remember that and appreciate the cost. One Christmas my granddaughter committed what I thought was the ultimate faux pas in gift exchange. She asked me how much her gift cost! My reaction at first was to correct her innocent faux pas, but I later realized I was wrong. Turns out God rather liked it!
HOW MUCH DID IT COST
One Christmas my young granddaughter, after receiving a gift I bought
Committed the ultimate faux pas by asking, “How much did it cost?”
Though the question seemed distasteful, I knew she meant no disrespect
So I proceeded to instruct her on proper gift exchanging etiquette
“When you receive a gift” I told her, “It’s not polite to ask the price”
“For the giver of the gift won’t think you very nice”
We went on to exchange our gifts, a good lesson in etiquette taught
Me a wise and responsible grandmother, or so that’s what I thought!
Later on that evening, after my grandchildren went home
I heard God’s voice whisper to me, “My child you were so wrong.”
“I know that you meant well in your grandmotherly advice
But when you receive a gift, you should always consider the price
In asking you the price of her Christmas treasure
It was the depth of your love your granddaughter sought to measure
The price of the gift you gave, upon your granddaughter was not lost
For she knew the price of the gift, was the measure of what love cost
I too gave my children a gift by which my love to measure
And I don’t mind if you ask the price, for it was my highest treasure
I hung my gift upon a tree, an ornament of grace
And for you to consider the cost, would not be in distaste.”
(John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”)