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Friday, April 1, 2016

Persist



Psalm 118:29, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever" (NIV).

Actually, the phrase, "His love endures forever," is repeated over and over again throughout Psalm 118 and Psalm 136.  Sometimes it doesn't even make a whole lot of sense.  "To him who struck down kings and killed babies...  give thanks...  his love endures forever..." (intense paraphrase, mine). 

What, exactly, is it to endure?  And do we want this?

A quick Google search will tell you that it is to "suffer something painful or difficult patiently... to remain in existence... to last..."

Honestly, I'm having some difficulty connecting this kind of thinking with love.

What, exactly, does it mean when love endures?

I have long since given up a perception of love that entails mushy, gushy feelings, flowers, and violin music.  I can even wrap my mind around a suffering, patient kind of love that tolerates pain.  At least there's some passion in that.  But to equate enduring love with simply remaining in existence is challenging for me, even when that's all I've got.  There has to be something more than mere survival, right?

Well, the lectionary continued to drag me through some rather demanding passages, today (especially as a "first born"), and the truth is if I wrote everything I'm really thinking right now I would lose all of my readers and most of my friends, but perhaps there is a tiny ray of light at the end of the tunnel, just barely peeking through where I almost can't see it.    

I Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (NIV).

I feel less than firm and deeply moved (not in a good way), and maybe enduring is all I can do right now.  The other day I heard someone say, "No one is going to give you something for nothing."  I completely agree with this sentiment, but all I could think was, "I feel as if I keep getting nothing for everything."      

But I think this is just part of the middle of my story.


Point well taken.  Must... remain... in existence...

L.

1 comment:

  1. When I read this, I can’t help but think of one of Paul’s phrases in “the love chapter” – “love endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). Immediately after that phrase Paul writes, “love never ends” (v. 8). It’s as if Paul is invoking the phrase from the Psalms, and he may well have that in mind as he writes. Enduring, never-ending love: That is the kind of love God has for us.

    I love how the Google search you did indicated that endurance involves not only suffering, but patience. Perhaps endurance is like the term used by some translations for one of the fruits of the spirit, “longsuffering” (also translated ‘forbearance’ or ‘patience’ depending on the version). Google will tell you that longsuffering means “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.”

    So you asked the question, “what, exactly, does it mean when love endures?”

    Maybe it is “longsuffering love” – not something tolerated so much as embraced, perhaps not in spite of but precisely because of the pain and suffering that is involved. That’s what makes it love: Because the other, the loved, must be free, and therefore, to love means to open ourselves to suffering, purposefully, because that is what it means to love. To risk literally everything knowing there may not ever be a ‘return.’ And to choose to have faith and hope in the midst of it.

    Maybe all of the fruits of the Spirit are just aspects of the first and primary one on the list: Love.

    So love is joyful love. It is peaceful love. It is longsuffering love. It is kind love. It is good love. It is faithful love. It is gentle love. It is self-controlled love. May our love for God, self, and others, be all of these, increasingly so.

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