[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:7
I can think of lots of things that make loving people hard. Having patience all the time? Hard. Being kind no matter what? Double hard. Forgiving every hurt and every bad decision? Unbelievably hard. Yet when I read 1 Corinthians 13, do you know what line really gets to me?
Love always hopes.
Yes, love always hopes. I don’t know the ways people have hurt you or disappointed you in your life, but I do know that, for me, when someone causes pain, the last thing I want to do is hope. I don’t want to hope they’ve changed, or hope things will get better, or hope that the relationship is restored. I just want to guard my heart…and move on.
And what’s wrong with that, right? This always hoping thing seems a bit counter-intuitive; it sounds kind of like an I’m-just-a-doormat kind of Christianity that subjects us to a vicious cycle of hope and disappointment.
Yet I know, that can’t be right either.
The God I know doesn’t want us to stay in hurtful situations or to hold onto destructive relationships. In fact, God allows us space to heal, and He’s often the One who provides us deliverance in due time. Hoping doesn’t always mean staying, and it simply can’t mean enabling…nor does it ever mean compromising what is right.
So what does it mean then?
Maybe always hoping (like everything else, really,) comes down to our hearts. Maybe it doesn’t look any certain way. Maybe it means we choose grace over bitterness, even if it’s from afar. And maybe it means we choose prayer over apathy, and kindness over revenge. Maybe it means hoping, because we believe in a God who can change the hardest of hearts, who can heal the incurable, who can make beauty from ashes…Hoping, because even after a thousand disappointments, His great love will still be enough.
It’s a costly thing to do. But when I look to the cross and the Love that saved me, I’m reminded that really loving people always is.