Ever wondered how Valentine’s Day came about? It actually started off as the remembrance of a Christian martyr named Valentine. Gradually, it developed into the secular holiday we know today. In the theme of love, our devotion today discusses the truest, deepest love possible: God’s love. We take our devotional excerpt from A Year in the Old Testament.
A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius, Valentine became one of the noted martyrs of the third century. The commemoration of his death, which occurred in AD 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the Early Church of the West. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.
Where is the love? Our lives are filled with loathing, and there is bitterness in our souls. We feel oppressed and beaten down by the cares of this world, and we wonder about the hand of the Mighty One. We agonize as we contemplate the One who has made us. He has fashioned us, but now it is as though He destroys His creation. Shall we be returned to the dust of death in pain and suffering? Shall we be poured out, our life seeping into the lifeless clay? Is there no deliverance from the hand of God? Where is the love?
The LORD God has granted us life and steadfast love, His care has preserved our spirit, but we do not feel it. We do not see the love, we do not feel the warmth, and we cannot discern its purpose, for it is hidden in the heart of God. Where is this love? Guilty or innocent, wrong or right, if there is no love, then for what purpose, O LORD?
Yet, it is the hand of the Almighty who opens our eyes to His love. It is He who reveals His heart and its purpose. It is He who sends the light into the gloom and shadow of our world so that we might indeed see love. God’s love for us is seen in Christ Jesus. Only the Son reveals the heart of the Father. Only the Son reveals and acts out this love so that we might see. As His life is poured out upon the ground, as His blood flows from a cross into the lifeless clay, our lives are raised up. As He carries our sin and bears our iniquity, our burden is removed and our guilt is acquitted. As He is an expression of the Father’s love for His creation, so we see this love in a rare and wonderful way.
This love, which illumines the darkness of our world and our souls, is now for us to share so that others might see. So is the joyous expression of God’s love that pours forth from our hearts. As He has loved us, so we also love one another. His steadfast love, which endures forever, is the love that motivates our own expressions of love. His steadfast love, clearly seen in Christ, shines forth from His people. Here is love that is boundless in its grace and mercy. Here is love.
Almighty and everlasting God, You kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy martyr Valentine. Grant to us, Your humble servants, a like faith and the power of love, that we who rejoice in Christ’s triumph may embody His love in our lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Biography, devotional reading, and prayer are from A Year in the Old Testament, pages 44–45 © 2012 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.