HOW strange that sweet love should bring so much heartache. Almost everyone has known it from the earliest days in the upper forms at school when previously unexperienced feelings sweep us off our feet: sometimes, alas, not to be requited and leaving us desolate. Later, when at college or our first job, more mature, but equally poignant pangs are felt for someone, who, maybe, is masculinely handsome or stunningly beautiful and angelic.

These occasions are altogether natural but the emotions of the heart are not always ruled by the head. Therein lies danger, not immediate, perhaps, but nevertheless real. We pride ourselves on being rational, but romance is often an exception.

We find certain people attractive, sometimes powerfully so. This experience may be described in various ways: the ‘chemistry’ is right, or “I find him (her) irresistible”, or “I have never felt like this before”, or “I knew from the moment we met”, or “As soon as he (she) entered the room, I was sure”. It is almost as though we were enchanted, and we like it.

Take Care!

These emotions have little to do with reason or choice, but spring from what is ‘natural’. The other person may or may not be in any way spiritual, yet we find ourselves drawn as by a most powerful magnet. Classic stories have been written around this theme: Bathsheba and Sergeant Troy, or, more recently, Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler. From Scripture we remember Jacob and Rachel, and David and Uriah’s Bathsheba.

We must learn to handle these situations in a Christlike way. We must learn. There are some simple rules which do not ignore the sensations we feel:

  1. Be honest with yourself and with God—if not, you are spinning your own web of trouble.
  2. The Word of God gives good guidance, plain, straightforward and, as you would expect, sound. Read, read, read.
  3. On no account let your amorous feelings affect your attendance at meetings.
  4. Reveal your feelings to someone you can trust and listen to what is said to you— younger people can sympathise, and older people who have been through the same things can give sound counsel.
  5. Pray and do not stifle your conscience.
  6. Stand back and take a careful look at yourself.
  7. Marriage in the Lord is God’s choice.

Decisions! Decisions!

It is better to have heartache through making a right decision to break a relationship, than heartache with no solution after making a wrong one ending in a marriage you might regret. Write a checklist of the kind of person who could be ‘right’ for you. Write it as though you were asking Christ to read it. Prepare it before you experience the things we have been describing or, if it is too late, ask your close friend at youth group or in the meeting to suggest such a list for you. You might find that even your parents can be helpful!

Most married people look back on a time in their lives when there was someone else within the ambit of their affections before they met their true partner, or when someone else was seeking responses from them. Some look back on a time when their emotions were so strong that they had difficulty in curbing their sexual urges. There is certainly heartache in yielding to sex when we know it is wrong. We must learn when to put the brakes on and abandon ‘sexual joyriding’.

Even Then

But, heartaches can come to the most successful courtships and marriages. We must not expect blue skies every day. We can cause others pain by being thoughtless, selfish or harsh towards them, or by seeking to be dominant. Perhaps it is someone outside who interferes, criticises or collides with our way of life. Occasionally, heartache comes from adversity: loss of job, inability to have children, illness within the family, failure to achieve our expectations and so on. Death is the final heartache and this dread visitor sometimes smites early in our lives.

What to do? If we are the cause of injury, whether deliberately or by inadvertence, we must seek early to repair the damage by apology, clear signs of our love and confession to God in our prayers. When troubles are caused by others, there may be times when it is wisest simply to bear them and not to show malice or antagonism; sometimes the matter is best dealt with openly, not aggressively, perhaps over a coffee or a meal. When the trouble is unavoidable—illness, for example— our first resort is to pray together, seeking help and comfort and that more than once. Help will surely come.

The Comforter

Heartache makes us aware of others. We should look for tell-tale signs that others need comfort and help, and render it in a kindly and supportive way. There is a lovely Hebrew expression which describes this ‘speaking to the heart’. It is sometimes translated as ‘speak kindly to’ or ‘comfortably to’.

The man of sorrows suffered a broken heart at the last. He is the source of all comfort. He understands us better than we can ever understand ourselves. His Father is the One who “healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.”

(Psalm 147:3,4)

The One who made the stars is the Healer of broken hearts. The Healer and His Son are only a prayer away. And they know us by name. Take your heartaches to God and trust Him.