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His Commitment Is Forever
Psalm 136

A former student of mine served as an armed forces chaplain in Iraq for two years after graduating from seminary. One week he called me from there. He had felt compelled to preach on the idea of God’s steadfast love. He remembered my explaining one evening the Hebrew word that represents it, the word hesed. He added that as I talked about this idea, I was at the same time giving Ann, my disabled wife, her formula down her feeding tube, and what struck him was that we weren’t just talking about steadfast love or covenant love; it was something that was being acted out. (I apologize that this is a story about me, though I think of it more as a story about Ann and about something God did through her illness, and I ask you to think about it that way.) He told this story in his sermon. A few days later one of the soldiers who heard the sermon was killed in a mortar attack, and the chaplain had to pray with him as he died. He was glad that the last sermon the soldier had heard concerned God’s steadfast love. The following Sunday the set psalm in our worship at church was Psalm 51, and in my sermon in connection with the psalm’s opening appeal to God’s steadfast love, I told this story. A woman came to talk to me in tears afterward because since childhood she had been given a deep conviction that God was full of wrath. She couldn’t internalize the idea that God was characterized by grace, steadfast love, and compassion...

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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