Advent Week 2: Hesed for the Holidays
Written by Rayshawn Graves, Leader’s Collective Church Planter
Read : Psalm 13; Ephesians 3:17-19
Have you ever experienced the holiday blues? As much as they sound like a musical genre, the holiday blues are actually a form of depression that occur during the holiday season when everyone is celebrating and joyful. Television commercials would have us believe that certain gadgets and toys bring a kind of magical all-satisfying happiness and relational bliss is offered through the consumption of holiday-themed caffeinated drinks. In reality, for many people the holidays bring with them feelings of loss, loneliness, and rejection.
David probably doesn’t have the holiday blues in Psalm 13, but he certainly knows what it’s like to feel both unloved and forgotten by God. He says in Psalm 13:1 “How long, O’ Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Like David, when we experience guilt, shame, and loneliness, it’s easy to grow impatient and even give into the temptation to find love and fulfillment elsewhere, especially during the holiday season when the cries from advertisements are all offering love and fulfillment through their products. And so often that’s where our pursuit to feel loved begins only to be short-lived when the things of this world fail to provide the acceptance and comfort we desire.
Although we may not know what David’s particular circumstance is or if it is even resolved by the end of the Psalm, what is clear is that David’s disposition towards God changes in the moment when he reflects on the steadfast love of God. It is the steadfast love of God, or more literally the hesed (covenant-keeping loving-kindness) that causes him to rejoice in the midst of pain, loneliness, and despair and brings him into realization that complete acceptance and fulfillment is found in God. In spite of the present, this love that David rejoices in finds its roots in all the previous ways God has been there for his people. David looks to the goodness of God in past salvation as the source of his joy and singing in the present seasons of regret, guilt, and shame.
As God’s people we share in this same hope of the steadfast love of God. Much like David, we look back to the supreme demonstration of love that has been displayed in our salvation through Jesus’ coming into this world and through His perfect work on the cross, and this is what assures us of our acceptance and joy before God in the present. In salvation, we see that God’s love towards us is free and spontaneous even while we were undeserving of it because of our sin. God’s love towards us is not abstract, but actual; it is both personal and real. Most importantly, for all who trust in the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s love is steadfast, unwavering, and unchanging. Because Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross, we can know with absolute certainty, even in the seasons of holiday blues, that God has not forsaken us, but that His steadfast love is always with us.
Prayer: Father, during this holiday season, may we experience your steadfast love for us in the gospel. May we, as Paul prayed in Ephesians, be so rooted and grounded in your love, that we have the strength to comprehend the boundless and inexhaustible love of Christ for us. Lord, when loneliness is near and when we feel forgotten and unloved, may we be reminded that because Jesus bore the abandonment and punishment from God that we deserved, we can be assured that you will never leave us or forsake us. In you we find fullness and satisfaction.