We are in the fourth week of our five week series Words to Live By, where each week we are looking at some big words in our faith that when believed and lived by have the power to transform our lives. This week we studied a word found all throughout the Old Testament. The word in Hebrew is hesed, and it is translated in multiple ways into English. This word can be translated as steadfast love, faithful love, loyal love, and/or merciful. Hesed is found 248 times in the Old Testament, and the vast majority of times it is used it is in reference to God. Hesed is a love that embraces us and never leaves us.
In Lamentations 3:19-24, the author finds himself in the pit of despair during the Jewish exile to Babylon. The Babylonians had just come in to conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Temple, and force many of the Israelites to move from their home. People watched as their homes, their shops, and their Temple crumbled before their eyes. It was a time of much despair and desolation, and yet, in the middle of it all, the author writes, “Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness, O God!” Somehow, somewhere the author felt God’s presence and had hope that God’s faithful love would endure even in the midst of tragedy.
The situation in Israel in the 500s BC is not a unique situation but one that we have seen throughout history to this present day. Just the past few weeks we have seen wildfires in California, mass shootings in Thousand Oaks and Tree of Life synagogue, and watched people be uprooted from their homes that are wrecked by war and poverty. That’s just the struggle we have seen on the global level, not to mention the personal struggles and losses we grieve. Sometimes we feel like we are in the valley of deep darkness, like Psalm 23 states. Some of us feel weighed down by the weight of the world and the state of our own lives.
But this author reminds us that the faithful, steadfast love hasn’t ended. God’s steadfast love endures forever and can never be taken away. God’s mercies are new every morning. In the midst of the wildfires, we find God’s faithful love in the helpers and in the fire fighters risking their lives to save others. In the Tree of Life shooting, we see God’s faithful love in Rabbi Myers response and in our community’s Peace Together Walk. In the midst of grieving loss, we see God’s faithful love through the comfort and care the church often provides. This Thanksgiving, as you gather with loved ones and chow down on delicious food, we hope you remember and gift thanks for God’s steadfast love.
Monday- Lamentations 1
Tuesday- Lamentations 2
Wednesday- Lamentations 3
Thursday- Lamentations 4-5
Friday- Psalm 136:1-26
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. Where have you experienced God’s steadfast love in the midst of difficulties?
2. What new mercies has God shown you today?