When God says, “I love you”: In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at the one place in the Bible where God actually says those three precious words we all long to hear: “I love you.” (He says them, and shows them, of course, ten thousand different ways throughout Scripture, but this passage has the exact words “I love you,” in nearly every translation.) These are words God spoke to comfort the nation of Israel during a difficult time, and these words transcend time and circumstance to proclaim God’s love for us, His people, today:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you…” (Isaiah 43:2–5)
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When we know how loved we are by God, it takes away our fear: fear of hurt, fear of abandonment, fear of the unknown future. It’s not that we think, “God loves me; therefore my life should be a walk in the park: no struggles, no dangers, no losses.” This scripture doesn’t say, “If you pass through fire and water, I will be with you”—it says “when.” Everyone endures struggle, danger, and loss, even the most righteous of people. Hardship is not a sign of God’s disapproval or punishment—it is an inescapable part of life in this fallen world. But Christians can walk through life confident and joyful, knowing that God will see them through, and love them through, whatever hardship may come. He will guide and protect, comfort and console. That’s how God says, “I love you.”
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