Last July I read Psalm 92:1-2 in my morning quiet time: "It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night" (NASB). I have read these verses many times before and always thought, What a perfect thing to do; give thanks to God every morning for his lovingkindness and every night for his faithfulness. That morning I decided to take the next four weeks to study these two words "faithfulness" and "lovingkindness" and to ask my Father to teach me how to thank him. I wanted to be caught up in his lovingkindness before I leave my bed each morning and to delight in his faithfulness as I go to sleep each night. I knew that both things would make me a kinder, more loving wife.
For 28 days I used Psalm 92:1-2 as my pattern of morning and evening worship to give thanks to God, and I recorded all I was learning in my journal. As I studied, I prayed, "My Lord, reveal, teach, and take me deeper in all you are as a God who loves me with lovingkindness. Take me deeper in all you are as a faithful God to me." What follows are my journal entries.
I learned today that the word "lovingkindness" is translated from the Hebrew word "hesed," which is used often in the Old Testament to signify God's covenant, steadfast love for me. In the Psalms (and this is true in Psalm 92) hesed is associated with the call to worship. I see that my morning and evening times of reflective thankfulness are all about worshiping the One who loves me, not just with a love like I love, but with a deep unfailing love.
Hesed is the unmerited and generous favor of God. Hesed love is gentle and always reaches out to the object of that love—which means me. Old Testament scholar Daniel Block describes hesed as "that quality that moves a person to act for the benefit of another without respect to the advantage that it might bring to the one who expresses it …. [T]his quality is expressed fundamentally in action rather than word or emotion."
Father, thank you for leading me to learn about thanking you and your precious lovingkindness to me. I see clearly that what I'm learning isn't just to encourage me; it's also meant to teach me how to love my husband. I'm to do things that are best for him—not for me. To love him with my actions, not just my words.
I love it, my Father, that not one English word can hold all the meaning of hesed, so we string words together. It is never just love but "steadfast, covenant-love," "unfailing love," and "lovingkindness." It is like when I talk to one of our grandchildren. Just saying "I love you" isn't enough, so it is, "I love you more than all the ice cream in the whole world!" Thank you that you needed more than one word to express your everlasting love for me … that touches me in a deep place.
Time to move on from lovingkindness to faithfulness. In Psalm 92, the Hebrew word for faithfulness is "aman," or its derivative "emunah." These two words carry the ideas of firmness, steadiness, sureness, steadfastness, faithfulness, trust, honesty, safety, and certainty. When faithfulness is applied to God, it is talking about his believability.
So when I meditate on God's faithfulness in the evening, I am thanking him that he is always true and always the same, that he is good, even when I can't understand him, and that he loves me, even when I don't feel his love. Beth Moore says that the degree of our faithfulness to others is the direct result of our regard for God's faithfulness to us. That is some statement, and in my spirit, I know it is true.
Lord, it just hit me that love and faithfulness are fruit of the Spirit. They are what I need to love this complicated man you gave me. My personal Marriage Purpose Statement is the word "faithful," and forever faithful is what I long to be. So thank you, my Father, for leading me to thank you for just what I need. I see that my faithfulness and love are the direct result of how big and wide and deep your love and faithfulness are to me. Teach me, please.
Oh, I am excited about what I learned today! Psalm 59:10 says that God in his lovingkindness will meet me. I see my Father coming to sit with me and share a cup of tea. How precious that he meets me in his lovingkindness. I feel embraced by his love. I've been walking around all day thanking the Holy One for personally meeting with me in his unfailing love.
Lord, I thank you today for showing me in Psalm 36 that your lovingkindness is as vast as the heavens and that your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. As I sit by this beautiful lake, drinking in your serene presence, I thank You that You declare that Your lovingkindness is precious (Psalm 36:7) and that you pour out your lovingkindness on those who love You (Psalm 36:10). Because you declare this to me today, I proclaim the preciousness of your unfailing love to me. Thank you for this quiet day to bask in your presence and literally feel the delight of your lovingkindness poured out on me. Oh, how I love you!
Six months have passed, and I am still thanking God and praising him every morning for his lovingkindness and every evening for his faithfulness. I have felt my gratitude growing. I've been focusing on God gratitude, but it is overflowing and turning into gratitude for my husband.
How about you? It is really very simple to imitate my God-Gratitude Project. Why don't you get out your Bible and memorize Psalm 92:1-2? It is easy to remember. Then begin to journal and see your gratitude grow!
Linda Dillow is the author of several books, including What's It Like to Be Married to Me?: and Other Dangerous Questions. She and her husband, Jody, lived overseas for 17 years and now make their home in Monument, Colorado.
Excerpted from What's It Like to Be Married to Me?: and Other Dangerous Questions by Linda Dillow. Copyright 2011 by Linda Dillow. Used with permission from David C. Cook. All rights reserved.