Steadfast Love

Love. How do we define love? Is it having your own ring tone? Is it a river that drowns a tender reed? Is it a Kathryn Heigl or Meg Ryan movie? [1] Is it a Shakespearean sonnet? Is it the Lady and the Tramp sharing a spaghetti noodle?

Last week I celebrated my 15th year of marriage with my bride. We got away for four days, just the two of us. We ate a fantastic steak the night of our anniversary and walked along the Riverwalk in Naperville, Illinois. It was beautiful. It was perfect. As we walked I thought about love. I thought about God and his provision of love and of my bride. Those thoughts led me to think of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Steadfast love is a term that I cannot move past. It is an idea that has captured my attention for years. It is a concept that is very attractive to me and paints the way that I view God. It is a Hebrew word that is used 239 times in scripture and none more prominent than Lamentations 3:22.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercy never comes to an end.

Lamentations 3 is a poem written by Jeremiah after his beloved Jerusalem was sacked. The city was  burned, its inhabitants were raped, murdered or exiled. Jeremiah weeps for his Jerusalem and as he does he writes these words whose beauty lies both in the sentiment and truth that they convey.

When he says, “He has driven into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver… he has made my teeth grind on gravel… I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,” he is not simply being poetic. These things have actually happened to those around him. But, this he calls to mind and therefore has hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

Steadfast love is love that does not change and does not need to change. It is the love that is possessed and dispensed by Jesus. It is the love that those who call on his name receive in never exhausting plenty. It is love that is not dependent upon its receiver. It is love that is authored by Jesus. It is love that is always right, true and always accomplishes its purpose to complete.

Several years ago a friend and I wrote a poem and set it to music. It is called Steadfast Love. The bridge of that poem/song is, “When my heart rejects, your love remains. When my mind doubts, your love remains. When I choose my self, your love remains. And you keep me with your love.”

Steadfast love does not change based on the performance of its receiver. Steadfast love finds its steadfastness in its author. Romans 5:8 tells us that the demonstration of God’s love is found in the fact that while mankind was repulsive to God, Jesus died to place that love within our reach. It was the nature of the love that caused it to stay. I have not said anything new or profound here in this paragraph. The love that Jesus demonstrates to us is not dependent upon us. It is motivated and finds all of its strength and intent in Jesus.

The word that is translated as “demonstrates” is the Greek word sunistao. Sunistao is a word with a subtle nuance that means, to put together or place within the reach. So this demonstration of love that Jesus accomplished while we were still repulsive to him actually means that Jesus brought love to us in such a way that we could interact with it, he placed it within our reach, he gave us an opportunity to engage with perfect love. Susistao is a backstage pass to your favorite band, it is a ticket into the club house of your favorite team, it is a pass to go backstage to watch your favorite TV show during filming and hang out with the actors afterward.

Steadfast love also does not need to change. This idea might be new to us. Here is what I mean. Every year in March the NCAA puts on a basketball tournament. Perhaps you have heard of it. Every year, I get really excited. I move around my schedule and load up early in the week with appointments and such. I do so because from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm on Thursday, there is always basketball on TV. From the time the brackets come out the previous Sunday, I am looking forward to 11:00 Thursday morning.

However, somewhere around 4:30 in the afternoon each year my brain, eyes and head begin to hurt. By 6:00, I am done with basketball; I have had enough I have to turn off the TV, go outside, do dishes, remove the catheter, take the dog for a walk, play with my kids. I do this because basketball does not have the ability to complete satisfy my soul. A completely satisfied soul is the goal of love. A steadfast love must be able to come through and meet its goal.

Check out Psalm 51, Psalm 89, Psalm 103, Psalm 130 to read about and meditate on steadfast love.


[1] showing my age and generation with that reference but it seemed like every man in Hollywood has a romcom with Meg from 89-95)?

Photo Credit: Canadian Son via Compfight cc

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3 thoughts on “Steadfast Love

  1. Rik, I love this post. I read through the Old Testament for the first time last year. I feel like I’d always heard, “The OT is all doom and gloom and judgement.” As I listened to it (I’m an audio-book guy), all I heard was God’s love for His people and His desire to draw them back to Himself. One of my all-time favorite verses is Psalm 33:22 – “Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You.” Thanks for your thoughts, Rik.

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