I’ve told you before how I ask God lots of questions, all kinds of questions . . . but today I want to share with you some questions that I know He wants us to ask and ones that He delights in answering.
I know God loves for us to ask these questions, because they came from Him!
Last year, I started out every morning with this prayer from Psalm 143. This prayer is filled with good requests. This week, I want us to pull that prayer apart and look at what it conveys and how we can use this prayer to ask the questions . . . . the kind of questions God delights in answering.
The prayer opens with my favorite Old Testament word:
[box]“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.” (v.8)[/box]
See that phrase “steadfast love?”
In the Hebrew text, this phrase is one word. Several years ago I claimed this as “my favorite Hebrew word.” The word חֶסֶד (hesed or chesed) in the Hebrew Bible is difficult to translate into English, because, according to language scholars, it really has no precise equivalent in our language.
When I first read the word with its definition, a reassuring sense of comfort and belonging came over me. Still today, just reading, saying, or hearing the word brings a secure calm and the reality of His faithfulness resonates deeply in my soul—every time.
I discovered the meaning of this word when I was reading Hosea and a footnote grabbed my attention. I’ve never recovered from the impact of the words I read that day.
The footnote was in reference to Hosea 2:19:
[box]I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.[/box]
The footnote described hesed as “loyal, steadfast, or faithful love.” Hesed “stresses the idea of a belonging together of those involved in the love relationship.” In this particular verse the word is translated “lovingkindness” (NASB) and refers to “God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people.”
I wish I could describe the arresting beauty of hesed (God’s steadfast love) and how its reality has affected me, but words fail. Anything I put in print is far too weak, too small—dull and restrictive. When I attempt to describe hesed, words like loyal, steadfast, committed, kindly love come to mind—but these are pale. Our context for these words is contaminated by a fallen world and a history of broken promises.
That contaminated world can shake our faith at times . . . that is why we need to be reminded of His steadfast love.
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love . . .”
Notice how the Psalmist supports his request in this verse: “for in you I trust.” (v.8)
Placing my trust in God’s faithfulness opens my ear to hear and understand more fully His steadfast love for me.
That steadfast love shows up most brilliantly when I’m pressed beyond my natural limits and He orchestrates a divine rescue! Nothing helps me more, when I’m grappling with a frightening storm, than to be reminded of this steadfast love:
[box]Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37–39)[/box]
I have nothing to fear because there is nothing that can overpower His love. This isn’t just a sappy, sentimental, chick-flick-feel-good kind of love. This is tough love. This is persistent, pressing-into-the hard-times and never relenting type of love.
This is God’s love for His own.
The same love that took Him to the cross.
Every morning last year, this prayer started my day, asking God to let me “hear” of His steadfast love. And He was faithful to answer that prayer.
I “hear” about His hesed, steadfast love, when:
I open the Word and He says “Come to me . . .”
I see the way He is working in my friend’s life.
I remember the reason for the cross.
I experience His promise to never leave me or forsake me.
He invites me to draw close and learn.
I meet a family who is impacting the world with the gospel.
I hear stories of His faithfulness.
How are you “hearing” about God’s steadfast love today?