I will tell a tale of love and loss. No big deal.
Literature is rich with stories of a man’s noticing a woman. Captivated by her beauty, he pursues and ultimately wins her heart. But, what of the man who does not win the heart of his beloved? What of him?
One’s heart is created with an angst that only Christ can fulfill. Instead of turning to Christ for fulfillment, many turn to worldly things. But, worldly things can never satisfy the groaning of one’s heart. King Solomon demonstrates this fact in Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 by stating:
“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom also remained with me. All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
King Solomon gained immense fame, earned unimaginable wealth, and enjoyed the beauty of numerous women; however, his heart remained unfulfilled.
Romance is a common bucket through which one seeks fulfillment and validation. A man may, on a veiled pursuit for validation, lavish romance on a woman. The woman becomes the object of his striving; she becomes his God. But, even the best people make terrible Gods. Since one is seeking validation, the romance is not freely given. The romance is contingent upon returned affection. Therefore, if the romance is not returned, one will become bitter. Growing bitter renders the romance a lie. Even if the romance had been returned, one would not have found validation. One is either validated through Christ or he is not validated at all.
God calls us not to pursue another for validation but to love another as Christ loved the church. However, loving another as Christ loved the church is exceedingly difficult. But, why would God make loving another nearly impossible? My recent failed pursuit of another has given me some, albeit limited, understanding of this question. In those moments I lavished romance on her, and she did not respond how I hoped she would. I began to understand the fullness of Christ. He constantly pours blessings over me, yet I too often do not return His love. Instead of turning away, He continues to extend His grace. In those moments of frustration, I sought comfort and reliance in Him. If loving another as Christ loved the church were easy, growth in God could not occur. Therefore, God graciously gives one trials and frustrations as a catalyst to increased faith. If one strives to love another as Christ loved the church, his goal is not validation; rather, his goal is to know Christ. Consequently, the romance is freely given. One will not grow bitter if the romance is not returned. Mutual affection was never the sole goal of his effort and striving.
Loss is quite possibly the best foil for love. One cannot know the full joy of romance without experiencing the deep sorrow of loss. However, it is in the depths of sorrow that one discovers a deeper understanding of Christ. To avoid loss, one must not venture great romance. But, better to experience the pain of loss than be the man who keeps himself out of the arena; the man who knows neither loss nor great romance. If a man can love the one who gets away, how much more will he love the one God has intended for him? Alternatively, how much more will her future spouse love her? What of the man who does not win the heart of his beloved? What of him? Could he in fact be the luckiest man on the face of the Earth?