Let those words seep into your soul. God’s love endures forever.
Psalm 136 is unique to the book of Psalms. It’s the one and only Psalm where each thought connects to a repetitive phrase. It’s like a hymn with 26 verses followed by the same refrain. Over and over, 26 times, the same words.
His love endures forever.
It’s as if the author needs to drill it into our dull brains. Each time the refrain affirms God’s activity in creation and in the lives of the Israelites. God’s love endures forever. Life was tough. Those were hard times. But hey, remember? God did mighty wonders. He got you through it. He led you through the desert.
His love endures forever.
Even the phrase is redundant. My pastor/husband told me the Hebrew word for love isn’t as we understand love. The word the author used is more the idea of covenant faithfulness; God will stay faithful to His end of the bargain and do for us what He has said He will do no matter what happens to us. Some translations catch this understanding by translating it as “His steadfast love..”
I didn’t really understand how God’s love for me could be a forever kind of love until I thought about the way humans love, the way I love, the way I worry how my sweetheart loves me. Young love is insecure. He loves me, he loves me not. If I don’t answer his text within 15 minutes, will he think I don’t love him anymore? If he doesn’t help me with morning dishes or kiss me goodbye on the way out the door to work, has his love for me diminished? Teenage friends are best friends forever until someone else comes along. We draw lines in the sand. You do this, Buster, and I’m out of here.
I once joked with my husband that the day he says a fast food restaurant serves better burritos than I can make is the day I file for divorce. It wasn’t funny. How could I possibly allow a personal preference, as wrong and silly as it might be, to drive a wedge between our love for each other?
I remember the story of a woman who was in a horrific car crash. Her face was pulverized. Her husband came to the hospital, took one look at her, and left, never to return again. 80-90% of marriages with special needs children end in divorce, unable to endure the strain and stress. The love didn’t last forever. It had unspoken limits.
God won’t do this. Burritos, car accidents, and unexpected journeys with children that lead to Holland when you thought you were going to Italy will never turn Him away from us. He’s in it for the long haul, for the forever haul.
We know this in our heads. We nod in agreement when we read Psalm 136 in church. Yet in real life, when bad things happen, we often immediately assume God has abandoned us. Where was he? Where is He now? Does He care?
Why do we assume this?
If we use the fact, “his love endures forever” as a starting point, we have to come to another conclusion. Instead of questioning God’s loyalty, we need to accept that He is loyal because He has said so. How would that change our attitude?
God’s love is consistent, never changing. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I find it comforting that no matter what happens to me and no matter how I react to what happens to me, He’s still there. He will be there for me. He doesn’t view me any differently. The dirt and grime I gather from the muck and mire of life doesn’t disgust him. He’ll hug me when the blood is still on me, mingling it with His own.
When I falter for the five hundredth time and cry out to Him yet again, He’ll lift me up. Again. Again and again and again. Unlike me with my children, husband and weaker brothers in the faith, God will never run out of patience with me no matter many times I fumble the ball of life. As I crawl through the knees of the giants that surround me, trying to retrieve the ball, He’ll hand it back to me and pull me upright once more.
So next time you hit the wall and are tempted to think God doesn’t care, don’t think it. It’s not an option. Before your brain protests about God’s love, remind yourself: His love endures forever. Base everything on the foundational fact that God does indeed care about you and on His part, He has made a covenant that He will stay faithful to you, no matter what happens to you.
The more important question is this: Are you willing to stay faithful to Him, no matter what?