Rainy, dark mornings, in my opinion, are best spent with a cup of tea, my fuzzy red blanket and my bible. Today I was reading in the book of Hosea. It’s been a while since I have spent any time there. Any time at all, really, as most pastors and authors I am familiar with tend to steer around this one (for whatever reason). But today, as I sat down, it opened right up to chapter one, so I decided to see how it might touch my spirit.
Hosea was a prophet, and he was married to Gomer, who left him to pursue the life of a whore. Harsh situation to be sure. Certainly made even more traumatic when God called him to pursue her and lovingly bring her home. And, he was called to raise three children, not all of whom were biologically his.
Scripture goes on to describe God’s description of how He Himself woos Israel back to His own heart – possibly also a reflection of how Hosea went about the same process…
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Anchor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’.” I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” – Hosea 2:14-16
Having personally experienced the betrayal of infidelity, and witnessed its destruction in the lives of many whom I love, I have wrestled with the feelings of anger and absolute need for justice (or revenge!). And yet here is the example of how God longs to reconcile – with love (“speaking tenderly”), forgiveness (“removing the names of her lovers”), and restoration (of all that previously belonged to her by marriage).
It defies all that we are as human beings.
Consider, however, a few thoughts. Broken people are broken people. When Gomer left her husband, and presumably her family as well (based on cultural norms at the time), she was seeking. There was an emptiness. She wasn’t whole. Her own self worth was so low, and her need for excitement and something different so great, that she was willing to give up everything – even the very thing that could potentially help bring about that fulfillment over time.
What is your hole? What do you lack? If you walked away from those who loved you today, how would they respond? If your child or spouse walked away today – would you pursue? Would there be shame, and blame, and self-righteous finger-pointing?
Or would there be grace. Love. Forgiveness. Understanding. Restoration.
Consider the expense of our Savior, Jesus’s death. Ponder the depth of his pain at his own rejection and betrayal at the cross. Today in our own hearts. Possibly, quite possibly, there is really only one response that is appropriate…