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This Kind of Faithfulness

It’s story time, friends, so gather ‘round!

This one will either break your heart or make you shake your head at the absurdity of it all.

It starts when a Good Man, an honorable leader in his community, chooses to marry a prostitute. Not the girl his mama would have picked out for him! Who chooses a wife that sleeps around for a living when looking for a faithful partner?

Surprisingly, things seemed to be working out for a while. House in the suburbs. White picket fence. A couple of kids. But then, Wifey started stepping out at night, ignoring the pleas from her children and husband to stay with them, to be faithful to them. That one night turns into many, and Wifey turns up pregnant with another man’s child. Still, she argues she is better off in her “old job.” Before he knows it, this Good Man is watching her walk away, casting off all the love he has offered in favor of what she thought this old life could give her.

You’d think this was the end of the story. But it’s not!

This Good Man goes searching after Wifey, pays the debt she had fallen into, picks her up tenderly and brings her back to home and hearth. He recommits his love and faithfulness to her once again. Even though it wouldn’t be the last time, this Good Man never gave up on her. Never. (Paraphrased from the real-life story in Hosea 1 & 2)

Crazy, you say? Even foolish? I would agree. What could ever enable a human to do what this Good Man did?

There is a Hebrew word that describes this kind of faithfulness: Khesed. There is actually no English translation for this word; but it’s about covenant, promise and a stick-to-it kind of love. And at its core is loyalty. True love does not exist unless it is loyal.

In a world of egocentric satisfaction and conditional relationships, doesn’t this kind of faithfulness call to you? I would image everyone wants this kind of faithfulness in their best friends, their family members and their spouses.

I know I do. But the higher goal here is to become this kind of friend or spouse, sister or mother. Is it possible to love people with a faithfulness that supersedes a broken heart, perceived wrongs or just plain human failings?

Could this kind of faithfulness make it possible to endure great hurt and still offer mercy, compassion and even forgiveness in return?

On October 2, 2006, a man stormed a one-room Amish school house in Nichel Mines, Pennsylvania, and shot ten young girls, killing five. He then turned the gun on himself.

The next day, the world stood in awe as the Amish leaders came offering comfort and forgiveness to the killer’s family. Many local Amish people, including parents of the victims, attended the killer’s funeral expressing sorrow for his family’s loss. Some of the donations collected for the Amish victim’s families were given to the killer’s widow and three children to help support them after the tragedy.

When asked how they could forgive this, many Amish involved said that the great faithfulness of God makes it possible to offer forgiveness and compassion, even to those that have caused them deep hurt.

The great example the Amish community followed was God’s. I bet you already figured that out! God’s great faithfulness is no secret. The Israelites in the Bible consistently referred to God by these characteristics:

“…God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient

—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.”

Exodus 34:6 (Message)

Friends, I write today on this kind of faithfulness, this khesed because we need it desperately. I see so many people throwing away relationships when hardship comes. I see some walk away from a faith in God when hurt by the people of God. I see anger hang on for years, making strangers of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers.

I want better for you and God wants better for us.

The faithfulness that makes the Good Man search for his Wifey is that same kind of love God has for each of us. Just like Wifey, I have walked away at times. But God’s faithfulness tenderly brings me back. He never gives up on me. Never.

Furthermore, I believe God wishes us to give this kind of faithfulness to each other. Imagine what would happen in our relationships and in the world around us if we humans loved with “mercy and grace,” were “endlessly patient” and “loyal in love for a thousand generations.”

Heck, what if we were to show faithfulness like this even just part-time?

So, here’s the challenge…

For one day, decide to forgive the harsh words spoken. Choose patience over exasperation. Apply some khesed, some loyal love, to that hardship your relationship is going through. See what happens, how it feels, and see how you and others are blessed.

It won’t be easy and it will take practice. But I have faith in you, friend!

Shalom, Namra

PS - Here‘s a bit more on God’s Khesed:

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