For most of my life I dreaded Valentine’s Day. It was a day that highlighted my lack. Lack of a boyfriend. Lack of pursuit. Lack of flowers, chocolate, and teddy bears. Lack of a date. Lack of someone to hold my hand. I spent a lot of Valentine’s Days at home, avoiding going out and seeing my lack on full display. Tears fell from my eyes, flowing from my broken, disappointed heart deep within.
Would I ever be loved, pursued, and wanted on Valentine’s Day? I pondered within my heart each year. Words flowed just as quickly into my journal as the tears did from my eyes as I poured my heart out before the Lord. Why did such a day have to even exist that would expose my deepest, most unfulfilled desires? The loneliness was pervasive and stronger than a tidal wave. It felt as if I was the only one without a Valentine—key word: felt.
This is where Satan runs a victory lap on Valentine’s Day. He wreaks havoc in the hearts of women all over the world, consuming them with their inadequacies and distracting them from the all-consuming, never-ending love of God readily available to them. Women, single and married alike, can feel the pangs of loneliness on February 14th and fall deep into the lies laid out before them.
The Lie of Loneliness
Comparison drives us into an even deeper hole of despair as we scroll through the feeds of others and see their bouquets of roses, their love notes to a spouse, or their adorable date night outfits.
Disappointment cloaks our heavy hearts with the weight of “I wish life were different than this.”
Insecurity trips us as we stumble through the day with an “I’m fine” smile masquerading an aching heart.
Lack drives our feelings into the pit of despair. I’ve spent a lot of time in that pit. It’s dark, damp, and lonely. Until I shine a light in it and see my sisters all around me sitting there, too. We only think we are alone until we actually open up our eyes to see those around us, aching just the same. We only think there’s no way out until we look up and see our Savior’s hand reaching down for us.
This is where my dread, year after year, was turned into a deeper understanding of the unfathomable love of Jesus. I stopped believing the lie that I was the only one at the bottom of the pit on Valentine’s Day. I started looking up and seeing there were women all around me with aching hearts, too. More importantly, I started believing God’s Word and trusting that His pursuit of me is what defines my life.
Because He is my Shepherd
You’ve probably heard before that you are loved and pursued by Christ, but what does that really mean in everyday life? How does that change your feelings on Valentine’s Day, when your lack is highlighted and a longing for love is stirred up within your heart once more? We have a tendency to band-aid the aches in our hearts with words and sayings, but what really heals our brokenness is the glory of the Gospel. The Gospel changes our response to the pain we encounter in life, including the pain of an aching heart. This is where our lack is met with the abundance of Jesus Christ.
That’s where these words jump off the page and pull us up from our “pit” moments with gospel truth that changes us from the inside out:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I lack nothing.” – Psalm 23:1 (NIV, emphasis mine)
In other words, because God is my shepherd, I have everything I need. I lack nothing when He is guiding my every step, thought, and feeling. This is the Gospel. We don’t deserve a shepherd like our God. We did nothing to earn His favor and love, and we can do nothing to keep it or lose it. We have it as a sure and steady promise, because God’s guardianship over our lives and His unrelenting love were sealed when Christ—the Good Shepherd—laid down His life for the sheep—us—on the cross (John 10:11).
I Lack Nothing
You might be wondering, what do shepherds and sheep have to do with Valentine’s Day? Everything.
You see, the “good shepherd” lays down his life for just one sheep who has gone astray. The “good shepherd” pursues his sheep, watches over them carefully, provides for their every need, protects them from the enemy, walks through the darkest valleys by their side, and nourishes them. The “good shepherd” makes them rest even when they want to keep running on empty. The “good shepherd” chases after them forever with goodness and mercy that is unending. The “good shepherd” anoints his sheep and blesses them.
The “good shepherd” sounds a lot like the “Prince Charming” we dream of on Valentine’s Day, except he isn’t a myth or a wish—he is a reality. He is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who came to pursue His people, to die in our place, to care for us, to rescue us, to speak truth over us, and to lead us into abundance. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who crafts every flower of the field for our enjoyment, if we would just look down at them beneath our feet. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who paints a sunset for but a few moments each day, if we would but look up to behold it.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who walks with us through soul-wrenching suffering, through deep-seated hurting, and through heart-breaking trials. He is the Good Shepherd who welcomes us into His presence, heavy hearts and all. He is the Good Shepherd who gives us everything we need and more.
He’s the Good Shepherd, and He is the best Valentine.
Because He is my Shepherd, I lack nothing, even on Valentine’s Day. The same is true for you.
Draw near to the Good Shepherd today. Be wooed by His grace and covered by His provision. In Him, you lack nothing. In Him, you have everything you need.
No candy, roses, or hand-hold could ever match that kind of unrelenting, never-ending, always-pursuing love.
Drawing near to the Shepherd,