26 Reasons

Description

When we experience difficulty, we can know with certainty that God has not abandoned us, because He never abandoned Israel.

I wrote to you last week about one of my favorite verses from the Psalms: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26, ESV)

As much as I love those words, they're troubling to my soul because I know I don't actually desire the Lord as much as the Psalmist says I should. So today, I want to share another Psalm with you that puts my troubled soul to rest!

The Psalm on my heart this week has been Psalm 136. It begins with this famous verse - "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever" - and then goes on to repeat that refrain 25 more times: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."

Whenever God speaks, you and I should humbly shut up and listen, but when God repeats himself, we should pay extra attention. If that's the case, when God says the same thing 26 times in a row, you better drop everything and focus!

So why does the Lord, through the pen of the psalmist, repeat "for his steadfast loves endures forever" again and again? I have a few suggestions:

First, this Psalm is meant to be a history lesson, reminding us of all the times God showed up in steadfast and forever-enduring love. When we experience difficulty, we can know with certainty that God has not abandoned us, because He never abandoned Israel.

Second, it's a reminder that no other situation, location or relationship can provide this type of love. How often have you been disappointed by the weak and feeble love of another person? How quickly does your love for locations and experiences fade? You see, Psalm 136 reminds us again and again that the only source of love that can satisfy your soul comes from above.

Third, verses like these are meant to "override" our feelings of shame and failure when we don't live up to the standard of Psalm 73:25-26. Should we desire Christ more than anything on earth? Yes, that's our calling, but when we don't (and we won't), God's steadfast love won't be put on hold. It was placed on undeserving sinners from the beginnng and will never be removed.

Finally, this Psalm provides 26 reminders of the foundation of everything else that's in the Bible: God's steadfast and forever-enduring love. Without it, Scripture is reduced to a book of interesting stories and helpful principles, devoid of any power to fix what sin has broken.

So today, no matter what you're facing, you have reason to continue - not because your life is comfortable and predictable, and not because your love for the Lord is strong. The only reason you have is because the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever and has been placed on you by the shed blood of Christ.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

1. What historical story in Scripture can give you confidence for your present difficulty?

2. What earthly situation, location or relationship are asking to satisfy your soul?

3. How can you meditate on God's love towards you, and how will that deepen your love for Him?

4. Today, where can you live as an ambassador of God's love and share it with a broken world?

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