I’ve been considering a lot of things recently. Why am I so averse to change? Why do I not want to think about all that God is doing in terms of what we are facing as not being about my child, or my wife, but about me? In Part 1 of this series, I quoted Matt Chandler in saying “If God loves you, he is going to expose you… and ruin your world for the sake of your heart…”
This of course led me to ask the question. Knowing that God loves me, what does that love look like? How do I quantify some characteristics of God in his love for me?
The scriptures are full of promises and precepts about the nature and character of God’s covenant making and covenant keeping love for his people. The Prophet Jeremiah clearly communicates this point in chapter 29 and verse 11:
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God is not simply revealing to Jeremiah pithy truths as a spiritual pick me up, rather he is showing them part of his nature and character. He is relentlessly pursuing his people, precisely because he loves them.
He is going to expose me
Before we get to the idea of “ruin”, we need to get to the heart of “love” and “exposure”. The love of God could best be described as God’s hesed, or covenant faithfulness. What does this term mean?
Covenant Faithfulness: God’s Hesed
Though many scholars have developed the idea of hesed on the human plane, the focus of our discussion here will be on the divine plane. The most central aspect to the divine aspect is that it is driven by “the importance of a prior commitment or bond” (NIDOTTE 2, 213). Through this commitment or bond, there are several key factors that develop as a result. First, the divine aspect of hesed “saves people from disaster or oppressors” (NIDOTTE 2, Ibid.). The writers of Scripture, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are communicating to the intended audience that life is indeed fragile, and that God’s people are constantly surrounded by the threat of violence, nature, enemies, and in fact even the very self, which has been permanently and totally marred by the fall. They reveal to us that it is God’s character, based out of his loving-kindness, which saves his people. The Psalms are full of this motif, communicating in every way possible great thanksgiving for the fact that God has rescued the Psalmist from calamity or disaster (Ibid.). This divine hesed is also seen as life-sustaining (NIDOTTE 2, 214). Not only is life sustained in a temporal sense, but also a generational sense. God’s faithful commitment to his people is a sure foundation upon which they can rest and hope; the covenant that God made with Abraham is still very much in place, and as a result, God’s people turn to it as a bedrock promise of their faith.
Not only does God’s covenant faithfulness sustain life, but it also eases God’s wrath. It is in these times when God himself is “tempted” (anthropomorphically, to be sure) to run the other way, it is his hesed that brings him back (Ibid.). God’s covenant faithfulness is “enduring, persistent, even eternal.” This means that, as we see in Isaiah 54:10, “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken.” We see the contrast between mountains falling to the ground, yet God’s covenant faithfulness remaining true even in light of all of this. Interestingly enough, God’s hesed is regarded as the basis or motive for petition or approach to God, as well as a motif that occupies a prominent role in the inner and communal life of Gods people. The hesed is something that both “guides [the people] to God… and characterizes his teaching of them”.
What does this mean? When God says that he knows the thoughts and plans he has for us, he is telling us this out of his fundamental faithfulness to his people. No matter what God does to his people, his exposure of them and his love towards them is certainly motivated out of his faithfulness, understanding that he is not going to let his people go for anything or anyone. The hope that we have is that he is invested in his people for the sake of his glory. He has staked his very own life on it in his Son.
What This All Means For Us
So not matter what happens, we can rejoice because it is this God that is relentlessly pursuing us. He isn’t the mean, vindictive God that we all want to think he is when things go wonky. He is ferociously committed to his own glory, and to his people being formed in to the image and likeness of his son. But that doesn’t mean that he will let us go in our rebellion without getting our attention. But that is for next time.
What about you? What does the faithfulness of God look like in your life when things get crazy?