Love is A verb.
I hear this saying often in sermons, books, and conversations about love. We are told there THE best way to communicate love is through action.
BUT after spending several days with orphan children I agree AND disagree.
Yes, love must be expressed in action. But this demonstrative expression needs to be coupled with a verbal expression. Children not only need to see that we love them, they need to hear it too.
On the last day at the orphanage, I had so many goodbye hugs from the orphans. As you can imagine, every hug I received was priceless and brought tears to my eyes. Yet, it is what they said that penetrated my heart more than anything.
"I love you Renee."
"I love you Renee."
"I love you Renee."
Each time I heard this, my heart grew and grew. Like the Grinch's heart did when the little Hoo-girl expressed love to him. I was touched from the inside out by these words and while their actions over the course of our visit expressed love, it was their verbal expression of it that struck a cord with me.
While I have many people in my life who tell me they love me, these orphan children have very few. Unlike my children, their parents aren't around to say "I love you" when they head off to school, when they are sad or hurt by a friend, when they learn something new, or when they get tucked in at night. Yet, and likely because of this, they KNOW the importance of saying/hearing those words.
And so with each little girl or boy who spoke those words to me, I made a point to look them in the eye and say "I love you" back. And in those moments, I wished I could be there to say the words again and again when they head off to school, when they are sad or hurt by a friend, when they learn something new, and when they crawl into their beds at night.
Driving away on that last day, my heart was incredibly saddened by the reality that they don't hear those words as often as they should.
But after returning home, God reminded me of something: There are hundreds of verses in His Word where He tells us He loves us. Which means that every time one of those precious orphan children read the Bible they will undoubtedly hear from their Heavenly Father "I love you." I am greatly encouraged by this truth.
God loves all of His children. Yours, mine, and the millions of others all across the world. They are His beloved. He loves them with "an everlasting love." [Jeremiah 31:3] He has loved them first. [1 John 4:19] His love for them is steadfast [Psalm 103:11] and abounding.
And He quiets their soul with His love for them:
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17
Friends I conclude with a simple point, the children in our lives not only need to see that we love them, but they NEED to hear "I love you" as well! They definitely should hear it from us BUT they absolutely must hear it from their Heavenly Father. So let's strive to tell them we love them as often as possible AND let's commit to reading to them the many words of Scripture in which God declares His love for them.
And let's pray those words penetrate their hearts!
I pray my children, and those beloved orphan children, hear the countless words of Scripture in which You declare Your love for them. I pray they would begin to grasp how wide and how deep Your love is for them. May they be rooted and established by Your steadfast and abounding love. May they trust in Your everlasting love. For You ARE in their midst, You are the mighty one who will save them, You rejoice over them with gladness, You exult over them with loud singing, AND you quiet them by Your love. May Your words "I love you" be a resounding truth that penetrates their hearts and gives them all the assurance and hope they will ever need in this life.
Thank you God that you give Your children both demonstrative AND expressive love.