About a year ago, I attended a memorial service for a dear friend and church member who had struggled with illness for several years. Everyone in our congregation and most in our community knew Phil because of his unquenchable joy and his infectious laugh, easily recognizable from one end of the church to the other. Throughout his experiences with cancer, heart disease, pain, and disappointment, Phil never lost his laugh. In fact, as my husband explained in his eulogy, it continued to the end. On the day before he died, over the beeps and buzzers of the Intensive Care Unit, you could hear Phil laughing uncontrollably. During my husband’s visit on Phil’s final day, the joyous laughter turned so raucous that the nurses came in to find out what in the world was going on. It wasn’t that Phil didn’t know this was the end, because he absolutely did. It wasn’t that he was free of pain or breathing with ease; all of that was still a struggle. Without a doubt, Phil knew the frailty of his human condition. What he knew even more, though, was that God’s love and mercies are from everlasting to everlasting.
Is there a more powerful promise in all of Scripture than this one? On the very first morning, before the Spirit hovered over the waters, God’s love was. From the moment we took our first breath, through the best and worst moments of our lives, God’s love is. At our end and throughout our eternity, God’s love will be. I think my friend Phil would tell you that even in the face of death, this is cause for unspeakable joy and never-ending laughter.
Do you ever feel like you are out of the reach of God’s love? What helps you experience the steadfast nature of God’s care for you?
Holy God, even in our darkest moments, teach us that nothing in this world can separate us from your love—not our sin, our brokenness, our fears, or our weakness. Thank you for the promise that your love never ends. Amen.