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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful on the seventeenth of November

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I am thankful for books that exhort, encourage, and affirm truth. I am currently reading A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament by Michael Card (Yes, the same Michael Card who sings those beautiful, haunting, doctrinally-rich ballads that sound as though they must have originated in ancient Israel). My friend loaned it to me after we discussed the lament. I have not been hurrying through it. It is the type of book I like to read and ponder and then read some more.

A particular passage that struck me recently is about Job. What Card said about Job’s love for God above all else is wonderful. It is exactly the love that all believers should have for our Lord.

Job loses everything: his possessions, his children, and eventually, his health. At this point, to die would paradoxically be a blessing to him, but death is mysteriously denied him (6:9). The an of Torah obedience is forced to a painful place wherein he realizes that, though he might not have seen it by any other means, indeed he does love God for Himself and not simply as the source of all His blessings. The reason to love is not found on the other side of the equal sign of the equation. It is in the inequitable, untranslatable hesed.* Without the pain, Job might have never realized either the depth nor the dimension of this kind of relationship with God, and perhaps never would we (43, emphasis mine).

This is why there can be abundant joy in the midst of pain. This is why sorrow can be considered sacred. This is why the dark valleys glow in the light of the presence of Jesus Christ.

When I was googling the word, hesed, I ran across this website. I don’t know anything about the author, and clicking on the Home link leads to the discovery that this particular website has been declared “closed,” but I really like his definition of the word.

I consider the following to be a good, working definition of hesed: the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of our Father God!

It is this love, demonstrated through the life and death of our Savior Jesus Christ, which has shaped our lives and made us who we are today — a people filled with joy and confidence who know the source of life, who are living the way life was meant to be lived.

My prayer for you is that your life would be gripped by hesed as you cast yourself on the only hope for mankind, the love and sacrifice of Christ...

There is one more quote that I want to share before I end this post. It contains a beautiful truth that my friend quoted to me from memory when she told me about the way this book has blessed her. On page 45, Card is still discussing Job’s struggle through the pain that came at him out of nowhere. The part she quoted is in bold, the underlined parts are underlined in her book.

By the end of the book, I always imagine Job and God standing with their arms around each other like a couple of weary boxers. Job’s jaw is swollen. One of his eyes is black. He must keep one arm around his Opponent in order to remain upright. But he has a grin on his bloody face that comes from the knowledge that it was never about winning the fight. It had absolutely nothing to do with being right. It was always, only about being faithful. Job has survived the prescribed number of bouts. He has finished his race. His reward? Does he get his children back? No, he gets God back.

I am also thankful for my sweet friend. We have known each other for a relatively short time, but she has enriched my life more than she knows.

“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness [hesed] is everlasting (Psalm 106:1).”

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (James 1:17).

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*
Though Card says hesed is an untranslatable Hebrew word, the Bible translators had to put something in its place; and they chose words like mercy, kindness, lovingkindness, goodness, etc.].

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