Psalm 136:1, 23-26 (NRSV)
“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Once when I was studying the love of God, I decided to go through the Psalms and underline every reference to God’s unfailing love or lovingkindess. I was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number. Over and over, as the psalmist recounts his struggles, fears, triumphs and temptations, the love of the Lord remains constant, unfailing and unconditional. Too often we place human attributes on God, or our own mantle of judgment, thinking he will love us more if we behave and follow his rules, less if we stumble. We may have experienced this from imperfect people, but that is not how God loves. His love is a steady, constant stream. Whether I feel good about myself and my choices is usually based in my ego, or the false self I hide behind. It’s true that my failures to love may be costly. But it doesn’t impact God’s love for me in the slightest.
Today’s prayer practice: The Echo of Love
Psalm 136 echoes God’s unfailing love, repeating after every verse, “For his steadfast love endures forever.” As love is the echo here, love is the echo in your story as well: You are born, and God loves you. You take your first steps, and God delights in you. You fall down, and God comforts you. You enjoy a sunset, and God smiles with you. Think back through the events of the last twenty-four hours. As you remember each one, speak this echoing refrain to yourself: “And God loves me.” With every experience you recount, remind yourself, “And God loves me.” You may find this especially meaningful when you’ve failed in some way. It helps to have reminders that God’s love is not dependent on anything you do or don’t do. It just is. Close by reflecting on your sense of God’s love and presence with you in this moment.