Is it truly possible to love what must be done? We are mere humans, dust with life, filled with failure and sin. Is there anyone we can confidently point to and declare a lover of dutiful tasks?
I find it necessary to go beyond people and look to Christ. Did He love what had to be done?
There is no place on Earth that has been witness to such sorrow. No hospital, no lawyer´s office, no graveside. It was a garden. A place that should have been filled with life and light and joy.
Ancient olive trees hung their crooked, rough branches over a bowed head. Her fruits wept nearby in the press, crushed beyond recognition, in the deafening silence of empathy.
Then suddenly the prayer and supplication in a strong cry with tears burst forth, “Oh my Father! If it’s possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Agony. Copious blood like sweat falling to the ground.
What a word of sacrifice. Of devotion. Of love.
Did Christ then, look forward with pleasure, did He love the fact He would bear man´s terrible burden of sin on the cross? No, he did not. He did not love what had to be done.
But He loved deeply, perfectly, eternally His Father. He delighted to do His Father’s will because it was exactly that. His Father’s will. It wasn’t the request. It was the Requester.
Friend, I hope you don’t feel pressured by fancy quotes, wordy books or grand speeches. Words can easily get away on us. It is so easy to say things that we really don’t or can’t mean.
I apologize (sort of) then for refuting Von Goethe. I recognize the horror of this in the minds of some.
You can “cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do” but I certainly don’t recommend it. God has given each of us deep desires, gifts and potential to carry them out. It is a betrayal to God´s plan to stop striving for those things. Now, of course, if we are talking trivial things like being a social media influencer or painting your house when you’re broke, then yeah, of course, cut those things out. But I take the context of the quote and question to be about the deeper things of life.
The second part states, “and learn to love what must be done.”
It is impossible to truly love everything that must be done.
I don’t love washing dishes or traveling without air conditioning in 40 degree Celsius. Unfortunately, they both must be done on occasion. I love my family though, so the unpleasantness of the task fades into obscurity. My feelings on the subject are negligible. Their needs and health are not just a duty. My love for them is what is important.
But those are paltry examples.
What about discipline meetings in a local church? Do we love having to set apart a believer? I hope not. Some maybe do. Which is terrible. But see, we love the believer. We love the church. We love God´s holiness. And so, with pain and sadness, we do what must be done. But no, we don’t love it.
Do we love saying good-bye to our homeland to share the gospel? Do we love suffering daily the consequences of that obedience? Do we love telling people they are sinners and on their way to hell? I don’t anyway. Nevertheless!! I do love my Heavenly Father, the One who called me to this place. I love His Son who gave His life for me, so I joyfully give mine in return. I love the Holy Spirit who so graciously worked and guided in my young life to ensure I followed His will.
Do we love burying loved ones? Do we always love telling the truth? Do we love having to say no and watching our friends become our enemies?
I think your answers would be radically similar to mine.
We sell ourselves really, really short when our object in life is to love duty. What a dry, drab existence!!! Doing our duty is the least of our responsibilities. Christ himself described duty-doers as unprofitable servants!
Don’t try to love duty or what must be done.
Just love your spouse. Love your kids, your neighbors, your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Above all, love the Lord with all your heart and soul and might that all your life will consequently become a vivacious avenue for joy and worship.