Why does love seem to fade so quickly?
2 Samuel 13:15-19
15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, ‘Get up and get out!’
16 ‘No!’ she said to him. ‘Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.’
But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, ‘Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.’ 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.
I was seven when I had my first real crush. I remember experiencing such deep emotions that I literally lost sleep over it. The feelings were so strong that it felt like I would never stop loving that person. Little did I know it was the first of many crushes, all of which (to date) have passed in time. It’s fascinating that something that felt so real and so consuming at the time could fade into insignificance so quickly. Ask any couple who have been married for a few years and they will have their own stories of how being “in love” has its ups and downs, far from being a stable and constant experience. So why is our love so quick to fade?
I’m struck by how quickly Amnon in this story goes from ‘falling in love’ with Tamar (verse 1), then becoming so obsessed that he makes himself sick (verse 2), to assaulting her (verse 14), and then immediately hating her (verse 15). This guy is seriously messed up! I think we can all agree that what he felt towards Tamar was not “love.” It sounds to me more like an appetite of self-gratification. Notice how quickly he goes from obsessive (even losing sleep and becoming sick) to possessive (‘I must have her for myself’) then to dismissive (“Get up and get out!”). It’s a horrifying snapshot of the human heart. His craving for self-gratification seems so strong that nothing could satisfy this appetite. The moment he realises this with Tamar, he dumps and runs, probably seeking the next solution to this craving for love. I wonder how different we are, desperately seeking to satisfy our own appetites with self-gratifying romance, pornography, fantasising, or even looking to our partner to meet all of our deepest longings. The problem comes when none of these things are adequate to totally satisfy our appetites.
In our hearts is a God-shaped hole, waiting to be filled by the God who loves us dearly. Until our hearts are filled, we’ll keep trying to force other things in to fill the gap and we’ll suffer the cycle of heartbreak when those things (even the good ones!) don’t fill us up all the way. Jesus is the one who filled the appetites of the five thousand with real bread then just a few verses later promises to satisfy our spiritual hunger: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) As we are all yearning for real love, love that lasts, Jesus assures us that the greatest love is to be found in one place alone: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Not long after speaking those words, he gave up his life for you and me, inviting us all to share in a love that lasts. Will you receive this love or keep chasing after lesser loves that will fade?
Head: What are some of the narratives about love that you find yourself influenced by? Do those promises of love hold true? Do they last?
Heart: Think about the things or people you love most. Do you think that love is an appetite of self-gratification or a deep love that lasts? How can it become a more sincere kind of love?
Hands: Start to reverse the pattern of self-gratifying ‘love’ by reading about love that lasts in 1 Corinthians 13. Resolve to find one practical way to show this kind of love to someone each day.
Thank you that your love for me is perfect and unchanging. My attempts at love are fleeting and self-gratifying, but you keep loving me unconditionally. Thank you for sending Jesus to show me what real love looks like. Help me to love Jesus more than anything and to let that love seep into all my other relationships. May my relationship with you be a love that lasts. Amen.
A song to listen to: Only You Can Satisfy
Living Church City South Campus