The First Valentine

Yesterday in Sunday school, we wondered how people without the Lord cope during times of difficulty.  Everyone faces trials and tribulations.  Everyone.  A Christian, contrary to what some believe or would tell you, is not exempt or immune from the problems of life.  We still get sick.  We still experience financial difficulties.  We still experience loss.  We even deal with the consequences of past sin.  On top of all of these hardships, we also experience the fiery darts of the enemy of our souls.  A Christian's life is no easier than the life of one who does not know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The difference, however, is how we cope with these trials.  I know that Jesus is always there for me to lean and rely on.  I do not need to face hardships alone--He is there waiting for me to take His hand so that He can lead me through the valleys of life.  No matter how frightened, confused, hurt, angry, or sad I may be, He fills me with His peace and joy.  Peace because I know that no matter what happens, He is there and has my very best in mind.  Joy because I know that no matter what I may face on this earth, He has already paid the price for my sin and because I chose Him a long time ago, there is nothing that can sweep me out of the palm of His hand (except by my own doing, of course. He may not let me go, but I may choose to leave Him).  Despair implies a lack of hope.  As a Christian, my hope is in Jesus Christ--who is bigger than any trial I may face--and so there is no need for despair.  There is no place for it in my life.

But how do those who do not know Jesus cope when facing these same struggles?  For these who have no hope, despair weighs heavy on their hearts and souls.  Without the hope of Jesus Christ, what is there to live for?  What helps people face their pain-filled lives?  Some may turn to things or people in their desperate attempts for peace and happiness amidst the storms of life.  But things or people will never provide lasting comfort.  Eventually, it will require more and more of that alcohol, those drugs, the material goods, or relationships to reach the same level of pleasure they had before.  We will never be completely satisfied with earthly things or relationships.  Each of us were made in God's image and with the desire for fellowship with Him.  Nothing under heaven will fill this longing other than a relationship with Him.  Nothing.  We may fool ourselves for a time into thinking that we are happy, satisfied.  But deep down, we know that there is something missing that our things, our friends, our spouses, and even our children, cannot give us.

Today is Valentine's Day.  Let us remember, then, the first Valentine that was ever given to us.  God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins that we may have abundant life to the fullest.  There will always be hardships.  Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and becoming a Christian certainly will not spare you from these.  But no longer will despair threaten to consume you.  Today I urge you to pray and ask Jesus to forgive you and accept the greatest gift of love that has ever been given to you.  "For God so loved [insert your name here] that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whosoever [again, insert your name here] believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

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