Hesed: A Word for the Year

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. (Micah 7:18, NIV)

Our days, weeks, and months are full of both good and hard experiences (circumstances). Some we control and others we don’t. Before the turn of the year, I heard several friends say they were ready for 2019 to be done and longing for the tide to turn in 2020. Life is hard, and yet every new year can feel like the mist off the ocean that refreshes and encourages us to keep pressing on.

Maybe this year you are going to practice more, hopeful for better scores and more fun on the course? Did January energize you with new hopes and dreams for yourself and others as you look into a new decade? Is it possible for a new year to reawaken our hearts, minds, and souls to God’s mercy?

Mercy, mentioned in our passage today, is translated from the Hebrew word hesed (HEH-sed). Hesed actually has no direct translation into the English language, so words like grace, loving-kindness, faithfulness, acts of kindness are used. Hesed is the nature of God. According to author Lois Tverberg, “It is the gracious forgiveness that comes from love that is so enduring that it persists beyond any sin, always seeking to forgive.”

Already, in less than two weeks into the new year, I have felt emotional pain and I have responded in kind; I have blessed and I have cursed; I have felt anger and hatred. Pride and ego have raised their heads. I have friends who are fighting for their lives in varying circumstances and others who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Heartache is endless.

The world we live in is filled with unpredictability. There is only one thing we can be sure of—God’s hesed. Love in action, his unfailing love. He extends his faithful love to us with every breath we breathe, and it is the same kind of love he wants us to extend to others.

Hesed is my word for the year. I need it desperately and I want to offer it lavishly.

In her song “Steady Heart,” Stephanie Gretzinger pens these words:

Steady heart that keeps on going
Steady heart that keeps on holding
Lead me on
Steady grace that keeps forgiving
Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

My heart breathes deeply with this beautiful picture of God’s hesed. His love is forever, it holds us, it forgives, and it believes… in us, his sons and daughters.

Tracy Hanson
January 16, 2020
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