by Ray Tetz—
Irenaeus, one of the earliest church fathers, wrote, “What God creates, God loves; and what God loves, God loves everlastingly.”
Now there’s a word you don’t read every day: everlastingly. It is one of those words that carry eternity within it, like permanently, indelibly, perpetually, and forever. It is the absolutely opposite of never. It is not “once upon a time” but “always and forever.” It is for all time.
At a moment in our human history unlike anything we have seen in our own time, when everything seems at risk, including our own lives and the lives of the ones we love, I can’t think of anything more reassuring and important than to remember that God’s goodness is never lost, and that love—especially love—lasts forever.
And because God’s love goes on everlastingly, it is not obscured by disease and difficulty—it continues to shine brightly on our horizon. God’s everlasting love and all that it means—including grace, faith, compassion, kindness, and generosity—are our anchor points.
And not just because we remember a time when they marked our lives; rather, it’s because they are the qualities of divine love that go on everlastingly. Living, guiding values that enliven our lives and will shape our future even as they have shaped our history.
I’m pretty sure that this is what the writer of one of the very oldest of the psalms was thinking about when he wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NIV).
Difficulties present themselves. Things we don’t understand and can’t control happen to us. Disease ravages us—sometime subtly and sometimes as a plague—but that is not the end of things; it is not what matters most. “What God creates, God loves; and what God loves, God loves everlastingly.” For all time. Always and forever.
Perhaps this is what lays behind these words of wisdom: “There is a time for everything. and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance”
—(Ecclesiastes 3:2-4, NIV).
Both the planting and the uprooting, both the tearing down and the building, both the weeping and the laughing that will come after.
The Shepherd’s Psalm reminds us of the future we can anticipate with hope: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6, KJV). Goodness and mercy keep on. Our dwelling in the house of the Lord is eternal.
God loves. Everlastingly.
Ray Tetz is the director of communication and community engagement for the Pacific Union Conference.