How do you pray when God seems distant?
Susie is our heirloom rose bush. The original bush was Cheryl’s grandmother Susie’s, and was carefully reproduced by her gardener Dad, Susie’s son. The pink roses are a delight to see and lightly scented.
But Susie has thorns. I rediscover them each time I prune Susie. Life with Christ is like life with Susie: beautiful experiences with purposeful, thorny intrusions and injuries. We aren’t in heaven yet, but soon we will be.
Some thorns occur from God’s hand for His glory without regard to our behaviors (Exodus 4:11). Sometimes, we sin against God and He disciplines us (but He doesn’t reject us). In fact, when God disciplines it is to show His fatherly love for us (Hebrews 12:3-7). I didn’t know my father, so this reality means a great deal to me. The Bible doesn’t hide the prickly things even of its exalted characters such as King David in Psalm 89.
Psalm 89 can help us appreciate both the roses of God and our thorns. The psalm is long and rich, with much to say about the character and works and blessings of God to those who follow Him. May I draw your attention to one repeated theme throughout it: The steadfast love of God?
“Steadfast love” is the Psalms constant theme and is God’s unfailing or loyal love. It demonstrates His faithfulness to His people because of a covenant relationship. It appears seven times in Psalm 89, always with “faithful” nearby. God is lovingly, steadily, purposefully working within, through, and/or beyond human circumstances. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). The “us,” in context, is not everyone. Instead, they are those who are followers of Christ.
Right away Psalm 89 tells us God’s steadfast love is something to shout about (1). Are you in love with someone? Then I know you talk about them all the time—often enthusiastically. God’s steadfast love is like that. Zephaniah 3:17 says God will “exult over you with loud singing.” I like that a lot.
The steadfast love of God was established in the heavens (2). It was planned for. It is firmly grounded in the court and character of God.
The steadfast love of God is joined with righteousness and justice and faithfulness in God’s kingship over everything, including David’s rule (14). God makes no decisions without all of these things at play at once. Take a moment to thank Him for this as the start of a prayer.
Remembering verse 14, note in verse 24 David’s appointment and rule is characterized by the things of verse 14—righteousness, justice, faithfulness, and steadfast love. So will Christ’s reign on earth and in heaven!
Psalm 89 moves to a fast close and proclaims God’s steadfast love is: secure (28), truthful (33), and already proven in our past (49). Ethan, the inspired writer praises God, “Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen” (52).
When God’s thorns come, rejoice in His steadfast love. “Amen and Amen.”