In a month when I’m studying “hesed” love, how awesome that one of the topics for my blog is love.
The book A Loving Life by Paul Miller is a great study of the book of Ruth from the Bible and the type of love that Ruth shows Naomi, which is also the love Jesus shows us in our redemption.
Hesed love is a sacrificial love, a love with no exit. You don’t just leave when you don’t feel love any more. This is about making a commitment and sticking to it. Even when it’s hard and messy. Love and relationships are messy. You don’t get to just walk away and take the “easy” way out.
It means not getting bitter or critical when the person you love doesn’t do something exactly the way you want. Or even when they screw up real bad. You just love them. Sometimes they are really broken by some circumstance or event, a death, a diagnosis, a financial failure. At that time, how do you allow them to grieve. In the book, Paul Miller does a good job of talking about the time needed to lament. That lamenting isn’t a bad thing. We seem to draw lines so far away from the actual cliff edge to make us “safer”, but by refusing to allow any lament for fear of blaspheming God, we’ve lost something precious.
He points out the Israelites were all in God’s face, all the time. Naomi knows God is in control of her situation and the cause of her loss of husband and sons. She knows God is good and what He does will benefit her in some way. What she can’t see is how her loss does that. So she declares God is attacking her and warns her daughters -in-law away from her so they aren’t impacted. They wail and cry with her, in lament. They don’t try to argue differently, Naomi is right about what is involved in they stay or go with her.
But they grieve with her openly. They don’t feel the need to speak or make excuses, etc. They just cry with her. A friend was telling me about her dry and cold marriage where her husband probably suffers from depression but isn’t doing anything about it. I felt the warmth of my husband cherishing me and I cried for my friend who doesn’t have that, maybe has never had that. She asked if I was crying for her and I had to admit I was. I grieved for and with her. I think that is what she needed at that time. It was all I could do. I couldn’t fix her husband or change her marriage or give any other advice at that time. But I could lament for her.
The lament psalms usually end with hope. And even Naomi’s lament has hope, she is heading home. She isn’t sure what she’ll find there but she is returning, in obedience to God. And God gives her Ruth to show hHs love and care for her. She rather passionately states her plans to stick with Naomi even beyond death. And she walks along with her even when Naomi becomes speechless and doesn’t even thank her or acknowledge her when she gets to Bethlehem. Ruth just sticks to her and doesn’t look to get any appreciation back.
That is my struggle. I want acknowledgment and appreciation. “Hey, I did this and I did it well.” But hesed love doesn’t work that way. A good area to look fir sanctifying work by my friend the Holy Spirit.