Powerful words. Terrifying words. Years ago, a teacher asked me to replace the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 with my name, and see if it still rang true. Do I bear all things? Believe all things? Hope all things? Endure all things? The answer stung: some things, but not all.
Recently I had the privilege of instructing a group of teachers how to reach out to children with disabilities. We discussed the seven things every child needs: significance, security, acceptance, love, compliments, discipline, and a relationship with God. These needs are so deep in each child’s life that some children actually develop disabilities as a result of not having these needs met.
Of course, our loving God is the best provider of these needs. This Valentine’s Day, as I have thought about how God’s love meets these needs, I have mulled over the meaning of unconditional love: “No matter how you treat me, no matter how I feel, I will bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things, with no conditions.” As Good News Club teachers in Chicago, we have the unique and terrifying opportunity to present God’s unconditional love to children who may never experience it anywhere else. Do we bear their burdens? Do we believe they are valuable enough for us to spend precious class time listening to their stories, questions, and comments? Dare we hope they can beat the statistics and grow up knowing and loving God? Do we endure the pain of watching them grow up in a broken, twisted world, watching some of them make decisions, even in elementary school, that can destroy their lives?
I am so thankful for the next verse: Love never fails . I fail. Some days, I fail constantly. But in the end, God is the only One Whose name fits in place of the word “love.” When we fail, He lifts up. When we break, He mends. When we lose, He holds all the pieces in His hands. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. And so we can enter our Good News Club classrooms knowing that the greatest thing we can do for these children is not to “never fail,” but to introduce them to the One Who loves them purely and can meet every need.
Happy Valentine’s Day!