Bending in Love
There may be no more significant description of how God relates to his people than the Hebrew word, “hesed.” This word is used throughout the Old Testament, and one of the challenges of translating it is that it is hard to find an English word with exactly the same meaning. Hesed has been translated into “lovingkindness,” “mercy,” “grace,” and “steadfast love,” but these fall a little short. One thing the word hopes to make clear: God’s love for us is genuine, unchanging, and fiercely loyal.
Hesed is the word inscribed on the back of the figure in this painting by Grace Carol Bomer entitled “Bending to Love.” As an abstract expressionist characterized by sumptuous colors, textures and palpable light, Bomer seeks to explore themes that center around “the human condition surprised by the grace of God.” Can you see the word tucked under the left arm? The artist says that to her, hesed is a love that is humble and strives to serve others. It is a love that stoops and is not proud or stiff-necked. Since God shows his unmerited lovingkindness to us by bending toward his creation, we are asked to do the same; to seek to actively intervene to help a loved one. It is love in action, not just in our heads.
The scripture that Bomer attached to this painting is John 19:13: “Jesus bowed his head and breathed his last.” A bending-type of love was never demonstrated more clearly than when Christ bowed his head in death.
Being Human connection: In his life, he showed us a love that bent in service to others. In his death, he showed us a love that was the saving of humankind.
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness [hesed] and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love [hesed] for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin….” Ex. 34:6-7a
Featured art: Grace Carol Bomer, “Bending to Love; Kintsokuroi: to Repair with Gold,” 2013. Soli Deo Gloria Studio, Alberta, Canada. https://gracecarolbomer.com/home.html