In my family, I am well known for hyperbole: deliberate exaggeration for effect. “I’ve told you that a thousand times!” I say regularly. As a literary device, hyperbole (all three syllables of it: it’s a lovely word!) and its opposite, litotes, are often effective in getting a point across. There’s a lot to be said for being not literal!

In songs, we often use the hyperbolic ‘ten thousand years’ to convey the sense of eternity. ‘Amazing Grace’ talks about ‘ten thousand years’, a lyric picked up in ‘10,000 Reasons’. We know that time is totally irrelevant when we are talking about eternity, but our finite, time-bound minds can’t quite conceive that, so we like to pick a big number and use that for effect!

Phil Wickham has gone several noughts further! In his song ‘Tears of Joy’, which talks of the joy we will feel when we finally see Christ face to face, he writes:
“In a million years
We’ll have just begun
To explore Your heart
And Your boundless love,
Singing endless songs of praise
For who You are and what You’ve done.
In a million years
We’ll have just begun.” (‘Tears of Joy’, Phil Wickham)

Even this number is just hyperbole. But it captures perfectly that sense of wonder and awe we feel as we contemplate eternity.