The Word We Need
So I'm not sure what possessed me last summer to buy a chain, a necklace with one word engraved in brass. I saw it online and decided if I was ever going to wear a chain around my neck, this would be the one. Since then, it's become almost an attachment.
I didn't know what was coming, no idea what 2020 was going to bring our way, none of us did. But, now that we're in the middle of this pandemic, the word I need is right here around my neck - STEADFAST. Maybe it's the word we all need.
I think about the nurses and doctors in our cities, in overcrowded ICUs, laying aside their fear, putting themselves and their own families at risk to care for the critically ill. Many nurses have provided comfort and care as surrogate pastors and family members for the dying who were isolated from their own loved ones. Steadfast indeed.
The source of much of our anxiety these days is our uncertainty about what lies ahead. How long will this go on? How bad will it get? Will it touch my family, my aging parent? When can I go back to work? Will I still have a job? With so many unanswered questions our faith is put to the test. In the pressure of a pandemic will we wilt and despair? Will we take out our stress and frustration on our own family? Will we fall into a chasm of depression and hopelessness as weeks turn into months?
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3) There's that word again, the word we need. Steadfast.
In Hebrew the word for God's love is "hesed," and it means more than our language can easily translate, more than simply love. It's love with a tenacity, love with depth, an enduring love. Some translators call it "lovingkindness," but I like the NRSV the best. God's "hesed" is His "steadfast love." That's God's faithful, covenant love, His sacrificial love for us. Brennan Manning calls it God's "relentless tenderness" toward us. I like that. God loves us with the tenacity of a bulldog.
The steadfast love of the Lord will not let you go and will not let you fall. The steadfast love of the Lord never changes, never fails, and endures forever. That's the encouragement I need, that's all I need to know. In fact I've made it my nightly mantra, before I fall asleep I remind myself of that glorious reality in a world of unknowns - The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
If that doesn't do it for you, carve it in brass and wear it around your neck. Works for me.