God used the prophet Hosea to communicate to his people that he loved them and desired a restored relationship with them. How? In a most unlikely way. God commanded Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer. As soon as Hosea and his wife’s children were born, she prostituted herself and, in time, became enslaved. In response to God’s command, Hosea then redeemed his wife from slavery and restored her to the family. God intended this demonstration of unconditional love to symbolize his own love for the people of Israel.
God treated his people with mercy and compassion even though they rejected him and his will for them time and again. But though God was angered by the unfaithfulness of his people he never rejected them completely. Neither did he condone their sin by extending unqualified mercy. He allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of their disobedience. After this, however, he promised to restore them when they repented.
While the story of Hosea’s gracious love for Gomer is the story of God’s love for the wayward Israelites, it’s also the story of God’s love for you. You, too, choose the way of disobedience that leads inevitably toward suffering and exile. But as God did with Israel, he often uses the pain of exile to bring you to your senses and lead you back to him. Then, through God’s unfailing love, you can be restored and enjoy an intimate relationship with him.
Innocent bystanders often get hurt by the mistakes and poor decisions of others. Disasters happen that haunt us for life even though we have no direct responsibility for the events that take place. Often the best way to handle these things is to accept them and to make the best of the situation.
Daniel and his friends were innocent bystanders. They suffered a lifelong exile to Babylon because of their country’s prolonged disobedience to God. But they didn’t let their misfortune destroy their relationship with God. With courage and faith, they faced the realities of exile and lived successful lives. Their lives offer us insight into how to deal with tragedy.
After being taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, Daniel and his three friends were trained for service in the Babylonian government. Their captors often demanded that they do things that stood in opposition to God. To protect their relationship with God, Daniel and his friends set clear boundaries for their behavior. They followed God’s plan for their lives, despite its conflict with the command of their captors. And God protected these faithful men from the foreign laws and unstable tyrants they lived under.
Although Daniel and his friends were exiled to Babylon for the sins of their ancestors, they didn’t use that as an excuse for continued failure. Instead, they trusted God to redeem their lives, and they were determined to live according to God’s precepts and teachings. You can do the same.
Tom’s a clerk in a hectic government office. In the midst of all the daily pressures, he’s regarded as one of the most even-tempered workers in the department. He’s quiet and efficient, and he never seems to get riled at anything.
Tom spends his energy herding his emotions because he feels they’re his enemy. Deep inside he believes that his father didn’t like him as a boy because he was too much of a crybaby and a ‘fraidy-cat.’ Since he perceives that he lost his father by being too much of a sissy, Tom isn’t about to expose his emotions as an adult. His controlled emotional detachment also keeps him distant from his wife. In the past, whenever Tom showed any signs of being troubled, angry, or fearful, she’d ask him what was wrong. His usual response was a curt, ‘Nothing!’ So she’s learned not to ask.
Detached men like Tom find it difficult to live out the values they profess because they ignore their heart, which is the center from which values come. Often detached men will become addicted to work, money, football, alcohol, or drugs.
Are you like Tom? Do you stuff your sense of defeat inside, thinking you should be able to ‘take it?’ Are you emotionally frozen? Perhaps you’re so dead inside you have little to give a relationship. Is your spouse enduring a frustrating relationship because you insist on suffering your losses alone?
You can change. Start by connecting with others. Find a safe person that you can talk to. We were meant for connection, not detachment.