A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Case of Mistaken Identity: Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Part 4 of 10)

2.1 The Father: The Kind of Love that Brings Sorrow (Luke 15:11-32)

"It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all," is a poetic way of saying the obvious. It is a wonderful thing to love, but we must know that if we love we will at some point lose. Unless they happen to die together, many spouses will mourn the death of the other. Most children will mourn the loss of their parents, and what is even worse, from a parental perspective, some mothers and fathers will suffer the death of a child.

And throughout life, even before death, we will suffer sorrow because the people we love will hurt and disappoint us. Children disappoint their parents, parents can embitter their children, and husbands and wives will not always live up to each others' expectations. Yet, the benefits of love are of such a nature that it is truly better to love.

Love brings sorrow. It is unavoidable. Some sorrows are more difficult to bear than others. The father in Jesus' parable experienced great sorrow on account of his love for his younger son. I do not even want to imagine what I would feel if one of my children said to me, "Dad, as far as I am concerned, you are as good as dead! Give me now what you are planning to leave to me after you're cold and in the ground, so that I can go live my life!"

What would I feel? Sorrow is probably the best word. Sorrow at being told by one of my children that my life means so little that my death does not matter; sorrow that my child is about to make life worse for himself; and sorrow that there is nothing I can do but watch him leave.

The Bible is clear that God's love for us is very deep. The deeper the love, the deeper the sorrow. Back in the early 80s there was a fairly popular Christian song that started with the words, "I wonder if God cries, when we do the things we do?" We cannot possibly imagine the depth of the sorrow of a God who loves his wayward world so dearly.

It is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all." The depth of divine sorrow, however, cannot vanquish the depth of divine love. Indeed, it is the stalwart nature of divine love that will provide a way through the sorrow. There is always hope.

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