Fighting for Joy on Valentine’s Day

You know the routine. It’s Valentine’s Day, that special day set aside to celebrate love and romance, and you’re single. You don’t have a girlfriend, a date, or even a female friend that is willing to be seen in public with you. So you invite a few buddies over to watch Braveheart, play some Halo, and talk about how dumb girls are. You make “Happy Singleness Awareness Day” your Facebook status. You tell all your married friends that you’re content, enjoying the freedom of your singleness, and glad that you didn’t have to plan a date and pay for a fancy dinner this year. You do all these things, yet at the end of the night when you climb into your empty bed, loneliness and despair come crashing in, leaving you wondering why no one, maybe not even God himself, loves you.

220px-St-Valentine-Kneeling-In-SupplicationValentine’s Day is hard for many single people. The cynical humor of the typical single Christian man (and woman) serves as a thin veneer over the pain and worry that lie within his heart. The inner struggles are exacerbated by the cultural pressures to find your worth, identity and security in a romantic relationship. Those pressures are often amplified in conservative Christian communities, as singles become collateral damage in the battle to defend marriage and the family. To many married Christians, the singles in their midst are pitiable at best, dangerous at worst. However, in the face of all these worries and pressures, Christian singles need to lay hold to some glorious biblical truths to be successful in their fight for joy this Valentine’s Day, and every day thereafter.

God loves you. That simple statement should blow you out of your chair. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that truth has lost its power for many Christians. Our culture assumes and even demands that God love everyone the same, without exception. Even within the church, the love of God is tossed around so lightly that Christians begin to think that God is required to love them. Unfortunately, familiarity with the message has bred complacency in many. The love of God does not shock us anymore. We don’t take time to meditate on the scandal of a holy God loving sinful people. Man was created sinless in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, the entire human race was infected with sin. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We were dead in our trespasses, children of wrath, and enemies of God. Really let those statements sink in for a moment. You deserve nothing but wrath and judgment from God. Yet God, being rich in love, while we were still yet sinners, gave his only Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus took upon Himself our sins and has given us his own righteousness. And now, resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father, He continues to intercede for us and has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us. God’s love is unearned, unfettered, and unending, and it is given to everyone who places their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, regardless of your relationships status. It is easy to feel like you are not loved when you don’t have a spouse to be a channel of God’s love and grace to you. However, the objective truth is that as a Christian single on Valentine’s, you could not be more loved. Rejoice and be glad that the Lord has chosen to set His love on you!

And not only are you loved, you are, in fact, never alone. God made man to be in relationship with Himself. Again, let that sink in for a second. The Creator of our universe, the Lord of all creation, the one who lacks nothing, the one surrounded by a heavenly court that praises him without ceasing, and the one who has been completely joyful in perfect love and communion with Himself from all eternity as the Holy Trinity, that God made you by hand and desires to be in relationship with you. Adam and Eve in their sinless, pre-fall state were in perfect relationship with God and one another. Eating of the fruit not only brought sin into the world, it brought brokenness to all relationships. God put a flaming sword east of Eden to keep Adam and Eve from the Garden and with that, we were estranged from God and at odds with one another. But God, the innocent and offended party, graciously took it upon Himself to reconcile our relationship through the blood of His own Son so that we can be at peace with Him and with one another. He lived among us and continues to live within us by his Holy Spirit. If you believe in Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit within you and you are able to commune with the Father thanks to the work of the Son at any and all times. An overflowing fountain of joy is within you. You are not alone.

And Jesus didn’t die to save just you. He died to save His Church. The relationships within the church go beyond simple friendship. Jesus said that those who did the will of His Father would be his mother and his brothers; “brothers and sisters” is the most common way of addressing Christians in the New Testament; Paul went to the church in Thessalonica “as a nursing mother”; he also “became your father through the Gospel” to the church in Corinth; and when Paul wrote to Timothy, he called him his “true child in the faith.” Family ties, the strongest human bonds, are redefined not by biological relationships, but by mutual faith in Christ. Even marriage is shown to be limited in that it is an institution for this life that will not carry over into the next. It will give way to the reality to which it was pointing all along, the marriage of Christ and his bride, the Church. Therefore, when you go to church, you are interacting with men and women that are closer to you than your biological brothers and sisters and forming relationships that will continue on into eternity, in perfect fellowship with one another and with God forever. What joy is there to be found in the communion of the saints! Christian singles, you are far from being alone.

So be honest with yourself, your friends, and, most of all, with the Lord about how you’re feeling this Valentine’s Day. When you begin to feel unlovable, meditate on the height and depth and breadth of God’s love for you. When you begin to feel lonely, spend time communing with God through prayer and through His Word and surround yourself with brothers and sisters that are going to lift you up and encourage you, as you do the same for them. And most of all, when you feel the urge to make that cynical “bachelor til the rapture” joke, fight it. Fight the bitterness, the loneliness, and the despair. Fight for joy.

This post was posted on The Gospel Coalition blog on Valentine’s Day, in a slightly edited form.

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