Isn't it interesting that these two quotes are used so often by non-theologians when speaking of love? "The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved." (Victor Hugo). And, "Love is the first requirement for mental health." (Sigmund Freud).
But from the beginning of time, "Love" was revealed by God, The Creator, as He laid out His wondrous plan for mankind. He created Adam (man) is His own image, then placed all creatures of the earth, sea and air under his dominion. He even spoke and interacted with mankind in person, like a Father-son relationship. In His own image, Adam was given the capacity to commune with God as none other has! But Adam was also given the choice of good and evil. He failed his first test!
Man, left alone, fails to pursue this "God-love" on his own. In several passages, we are reminded that "all have gone astray, like sheep without a shepherd". Man has to allow "love" to invade his soul in order to experience it to the fullest degree. And when he does, he realizes how true God's promises are. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" is one of those trusted promise to remember! (James 4:8).
Throughout the Old Testament, we see God in action, revealing Himself in many different ways and various times, seeking to reestablish that love-relationship broken in Eden's garden (Adam and Eve). The patriachs and prophets made their attempts, under God's direction, but sinful man wanted to 'go his own way'. He moved farther and farther away from God, trying to outrun His love. But Holy Scripture says, "in the fullness of time, God sent His Son, Jesus, to provide salvation (restoration with God)." (Gal. 4: 4).
John 3:16 is the shining promise of God's love and the extent He was willing to go to redeem man. When Jesus realized that God was willing (really willing) to give Him (Jesus) up to be sacrificed for the sin's of mankind, He (Jesus) understood fully His Divine purpose – give His life for the ransom of man's sin. Yes, it is true: God so loved the world (you and me), that He was willing to give up His own Son (one and only), to die on the Cross in our place so that we might have eternal life.
What a Savior! What a Holy Father! What a price paid for our sins! All because He first loved us!