1 Praise the LORD.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Prerequisite #1: God is Love
You know this, I know this, the end.
Prerequisite #2: God loves us
You feel this (sometimes), I feel this (sometimes), the end.
Prerequisite #3: His love endures forever
Read that again.
Emphasis on the verb (for those of you who don’t know, that’s “endures”).
The end? Not yet.
Why didn’t the psalmists just say “His love lasts forever”, or something to that effect? What we’ve been taught all these years is that God loves us, and that love lasts forever. That’s it. But is it really – really – that simple?
A quick dictionary search would define “endure” as “bearing hardship”…wait a second, isn’t that a bad connotation? Amen to that. A quick search in the thesaurus (yes I’m a grammar geek) would provide synonyms such as “suffer” and “tolerate”. Enduring love is sometimes translated as “longsuffering love”. All of a sudden God’s love seems much more profound than ever before.
A quick summary; now the phrase reads more like “God’s love suffers forever” or “God’s love tolerates forever”.
“Forever” is, of course, a theoretical term meaning “unending” or “incessantly”. So let’s consider another rephrase.
“God’s love never stops suffering/tolerating”. I hope you’re with me so far.
There is a profound difference between loving someone who shares that love mutually, and loving someone who…well let’s just use the old epigram “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” That is the same exact difference between God’s love “lasting” forever and that same love “enduring/suffering” forever. If I tell you to stand still for an hour, you wouldn’t complain much. If I tell you to stand still in a 50 degree room for an hour, it becomes something you have to tolerate, to endure. “Forever” is an inherent characteristic of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God – who is the ultimate cause and the creator of Time – who is not limited or confined within the boundaries of Time itself. “Forever” is just a theoretical term we feeble humans give to that timelessness so that we can just barely wrap our minds around God. For God to love us forever is child’s play; since He is love, and is eternal, His love would naturally last forever. To tell Him to stop loving us halfway into eternity is to tell Him to forsake part of His characteristic.
Yet here comes the mindblowing part: He doesn’t simply love us eternally, He sufferingly (yes, welcome to David’s neologisms) loves us forever.
God is a Person, hence He feels what we feel: love, anger, jealousy, desire, enjoys, suffers. We were made in His image, therefore we have those feelings as well. Although He is capable of suffering, by no means does He have to suffer in this one-sided love relationship with Man. But somehow, He willingly chose to. You might remember Jesus? Well that’s the result and the zenith of God’s suffering. Before that, in the days of the Old Testament (and ever since Creation), God chose to suffer alongside humans, loving us despite our constant blasphemous behavior.
We don’t love Him. He loves us anyways.
We turn away from Him time and time again. He loves us anyways.
We curse Him to His face. He loves us anyways.
We are hypocrites. He loves us anyways.
We hate Him. He loves us anyways.
That, my friends, is suffering.
That, my friends, is a long-suffering love.
That, my friends, is how “His love endures forever”.