As we look around us, today, it is easy to become discouraged, and to feel lost and hopeless. In many ways it seems like we have woken up in a different world, a world we don’t recognize or feel at home in anymore. It seems like a world gone mad at times, with division, anger, hate, non-stop violence, unrest, a lack of security and Truth. Friendships have been broken, families divided, church members at odds, spouses who can’t stand to be together, and a government that seems completely unable to work together and get along. I don’t know where this finds you, but it would be easy to be afraid, to be anxious, depressed, and very confused. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Jonathan Edwards: “Our bad things turn out for good, our good things can never be lost, and the best is yet to come”. This quote is so true! We have so much to enjoy and look forward to! God has been showing me lately, how this is such a great time to be alive. We have such a great opportunity to love, connect, learn from each other, and to engage in meaningful conversations.
We can love well today because God is Love. Romans 8:31 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. How much does God love us? Christmas and the cross show us the extent of His love. He died the cruelest most agonizing death humanly possible so we could have a relationship with the God of the universe. Aren’t you glad He gave His best and didn’t just send a card, email, or text, but that He personally came down into this cruel world to be with us and show us the extent of His love? We are not alone.
I invite you to leave this broken, bleeding, hurtful world for a moment and allow yourself to enter into God’s world. Scripture tells us that it is impossible to know all the ways of God and of love. His ways are just so much higher than ours. Yet God gives us stories in the Bible that open up His world and allow us sacred glimpses of what it must be like to be God. One of my favorites is the story of Hosea, a young man who was extremely excited to be chosen as God’s very own prophet. I am sure he couldn’t wait be God’s spokesperson, experiencing amazing acts of power and witness the greatness of God. How shocked he must have been to hear God say to marry a prostitute. What? Of all the things he might have been dreaming of this surely wasn’t one of them. It made no sense at all and seemed like a curse turning his life into a living hell. I mean come on God; couldn’t you have started him off a little easier? But as we see God had incredible plans and blessings for Hosea, the Israelites, and for us as well. Even though it looked like a disaster, meaningless, and cruel, as with us today, God was revealing His love and blessing.
The story of Hosea is fascinating even though there is so much we don’t know. We see Hosea obeyed and married a women Gomer, who had quite a reputation. I can’t imagine the humiliation and mocking Hosea received for this decision that was so scandalous and costly. Surely everyone knew this marriage had no chance to succeed. Soon Gomer had a son, and God told Hosea to name him Jezreel, which means unwanted and reject. Shortly after, Gomer had 2 more children, but we notice something unusual and different. It seems like these were not Hosea’s children but were from another man or men. It sure didn’t take long as I am sure everyone expected, and she had returned to her old ways and been unfaithful.
The story goes on to say that not only was Gomer unfaithful, but she eventually left him and the children for other adulterous relationships. Scripture says Hosea continued to seek her out even though she was unaware, and to make sure she was taken care of, giving her abundant and extravagant luxuries. In spite of her heartbreaking betrayal, Hosea continued to love her. At one point though it seems he left her go or possibly divorced her. God prompted him at some point to find her and buy her back. I am sure being human, Hosea had little desire to be further humiliated, rejected, and betrayed. Most likely he and the children had moved on and were putting the broken pieces of their lives back together. Here was a woman who had nothing, seemingly no future, security, and hope, but a kind, generous, loving man gave her a fairy tale life. A life of security and great wealth, yet she chose to follow her selfish desires which led to her having nothing and becoming a slave. Just when it seemed like she had no hope and no way out of her predicament, the man she had betrayed found her at a slave auction and bought her back. Hosea loved her again and restored her to security and riches.
Are you starting to get the picture? This is God’s world. This is what it is like when those who you lovingly created, loved, chose, and gave abundant blessings too, betray you over and over again. They spit in your face and choose inferior pleasures that leave them empty, broken, and without hope. In spite of their continual rejection, God still loves, pursues and He paid for our freedom with His own death. He exchanged our lives, sins, and destiny, for His. Gomer is you and me. We are the unfaithful adulterous wife that betrays our perfect loving husband who never ceases to love and provide for us, make sure we are cared for, and who paid the greatest price to restore us.
I am sure all of us have been betrayed to different degrees. Betrayal is always hurtful but if you have been betrayed by a loved one, one of your own children, or a spouse, you understand the immense pain that God constantly feels. The deeper your pain and betrayal the greater your potential for understanding, receiving, and giving God’s love. It is impossible to begin to understand the extent of God’s love without experiencing not only in our head but in our heart, and gut, the depth of the pain Jesus endured and experiences daily by our betrayals.
If you find yourself in a difficult place, severe trial, anxious, depressed, or feeling hopeless, you are in a good place. Hosea 2:14-15 talks of the wilderness as being a place where God allures us, and speaks tenderly to us, giving us hope. God wants to reveal Himself to us with great love, tenderness, healing and take us to places of deep assurance and rest. I have been there often. Even though I don’t enjoy the pain, meeting God in the wildness is beyond what I could ever imagine. Every day and breath are a gift. How many days have I thanked God for my health, checks written, bills paid, fresh starts, new beginnings, laughs, good night kisses, hugs, good books, warm house, good meals, nature, music, smell, sounds the list is endless. How many comforts and luxuries have we received and acted like we deserved them, rather than seeing them as gifts from our loving Father?
Wherever you find yourself today, God sometimes allows tragedy into our lives and relationships. Sometimes it is because of our sin and choices, but often because He wants to take us to much greater places. His goal is always to take us into the wilderness and speak tenderly to us, romancing us. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to understand, receive, and give out His perfect Love. Don’t give up hope! True rest, deep soul rest, is only found in Him not in all those adulterous relationships, other gods, and pleasures the world likes to glamorize. They always leave us empty, alone, and wanting more. I trust you can slow down, be refreshed with Jesus, enjoy His endless gifts, and look forward to a time and place of perfect Love and communion with Him.