Love’s pain and promise

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34,35

Joel C. Seifert

Maybe this doesn’t seem like the right time of year to say it, but it’s a lot easier not to love. As soon as you love someone, you have something to lose.

We like to pretend that isn’t true. Pay attention to the commercials and TV shows this month. More often than not, you’ll see beautiful images of the joy and bliss from our relationships. We love love.

But love brings pain too. Consider the picture of pure love that St. Luke sets before our eyes: A new mother brings her baby to the Temple in order to carry out the Lord’s will. She loves her newborn. Prompted by God’s Spirit, another worshiper approaches them and says, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”


Mary heard Simeon say that her deep love for her Son will also hurt her. She’ll learn it in practice many times after that. She’ll feel the prick of sadness as his ministry takes him away from her. She’ll feel little daggers of pain when she hears him mocked as a fool, sees the religious leaders grow more and more opposed to him, and even observes some of his disciples leave him. And one day, as she stands at the foot of his cross, a sword of pain will pierce her heart as she watches her boy die, unable to even hold him in her own arms. She loves her son, her Savior, and that love will bring her pain.

Love brings us pain at times too. When we love God, we hurt when others think he is unimportant. It stings us when we hear people mock him. It cuts us when people we love leave him. How many painful moments do we have when we read and watch stories of the persecution of those who love our God and Savior.


That’s why God gives us a promise. I don’t know if Simeon understood all the details, but he was there in the temple courts that day because God had promised him that he would see the Savior who would restore God’s people. When God makes a promise, he keeps it.

That’s what sustained Simeon in his years of waiting. That’s what would carry Mary through. No matter how much hurt they faced or how much they seemed to lose, God’s love came with a promise. It would be worth it. A sword might pierce Mary’s soul, but there in her arms was the Savior who would redeem her soul. What could she really lose?

Many Christians set apart Feb. 2 as a day to remember when Mary brought Jesus to the temple courts. What a fitting way to begin a month that’s so focused on love! You are a believer. Your love for God will lead you to honor God in your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife—in any and all of your earthly relationships. Speak his words to correct each other and to point each other back to our real hope. Sometimes that may bring pain. That’s always a risk when you love Jesus. But you’ll never really lose. After all, God’s given you his promise.

Contributing editor Joel Seifert is pastor at Shining Mountains, Bozeman, Montana.


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Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 103, Number 2
Issue: February 2016

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