Sitting in front of my computer, pondering the mystery of hesed in the book of Ruth, I get the call. The one from my husband telling me my daughter is in a car accident, asking if I can get to her quick because his office is further away from the crash site and she is sobbing.
Still pondering as I pull into rain soaked, muddy grass on the side of the road, amidst flashing lights of fire trucks, police cars and a bevy of uniformed men, I ask Him, “where does hesed fit into this scenario?.”
This Hebrew word, one of the most potent in the Old Testament, has no translation in our English language to capture its exact meaning, ends up with a cafeteria of words for meaning like kindness, mercy, loyalty, loving-kindness, steadfast, unfailing love.
But really how do we describe active, selfless, sacrificial caring for one another that goes against the grain of our fallen nature? The way Boaz took care of widows, outcasts in the community (Ruth 3:16).
And I wonder – this mangled car on the side of the road, my daughter’s tear stained, broken heart, deep disappointment from an act of injustice – where is hesed?
Because it is easy to see it, this mystery, in the hands of those that feed the hungry, in the eyes and smiles of those who care for the sick, minister to the poor. But hesed isn’t what we do out of duty or obligation, it is who we are deep down in the marrow of our being. Selfless, voluntary care of another just because. Because of Jesus.
So when I get past thinking about what this costs us – the dollars and cents, the heartbreak that comes when hope is fractured by injustice, how we can restore the freedom my daughter just found two weeks ago as a driver – hesed reveals itself. Breaks through the fog of circumstance, brings hope in these ways:
People travelling busy pull off the side of the road, get rain soaked, just to make sure she is okay.
A principal leaves school, walks suit clad in drizzle, sloshes through mud to offer consolation.
A brother offers the riches in his wallet to help buy her a new car.
A co-worker calls just to know, hear her voice.
A youth leader prays over the phone, words soothing a broken heart.
Like Ruth, carrying hesed in sixty pounds of barley on her back to Naomi for provision, we carry these acts of kindness. Sustenance for this faith journey, through to the promise of redemption.
Snapshots of the Gospel lived out. Voluntary, just because, acts of kindness. Hesed breaks through, gives hope right there in the soggy, messed up circumstances of a car accident.
So tell me friends, how do you experience hesed?
He has not stopped showing his kindness (hesed) to the living and the dead~ Ruth 2:20