God’s heartache for people

I was reading the book of Hosea this morning and just thinking about how God must’ve felt when Israel, the people whom God had chosen and blessed and led into the promised land, was so unfaithful to Him.  Poor Hosea too – being told from the Lord to take Gomer, a prostitute, for his wife (Hosea 1:2).  They have three children together, then she leaves Hosea and he goes actually buys her back according to the Lord’s instructions (Hosea 3:1-3).  How did Hosea forgive Gomer for leaving him?  Was his pain still there throughout their years of marriage?  How could God offer any sort of restoration to His people?  God’s forgiveness, love and grace is hard to comprehend.

Hosea 11:1-4 reads,

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.

“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,

and I became to them as one who eases
the yoke on their jaws,

and I bent down to them and fed them.”

And then at the end of Hosea, chapter 14:1-9 says,

“Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Take with you words
and return to the LORD;

say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”

“I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

“O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.

“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.”

How often have I turned to “idols” in my life, instead of God?  How often do we look in other places for refuge, love and peace?  The Lord is our Shepherd – providing everything we need in this life, offering unending love, the strongest shelter for refuge, the complete forgiveness of our sins.  Why is it so hard to trust Him when the way is unclear and the path uncertain?

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