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.
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and gone their own way. No matter how far you’ve gone in the wrong direction, however, when you turn around God always welcomes you back. Are you living beyond your means? Have you given in to the world of internet pornography? Maybe you’re failing your wife and kids, crushing them with your anger or solitude. Is your free time filled with television or video games?
God is ready to welcome you back. His arms are open, and his promises are sure–he will transform your worst failures into a blessed future, if you’ll ask him to.
There is hope for you. God is gracious and will forgive you, no matter what you’ve done or failed to do. He will even turn your past around and create a new life’a life of hope, peace, and ongoing relationship with him. But you have to take the first step. It’s a paradox of our faith: seek God and He will find you! Whether it’s the first time you’ve sought Him or you have strayed over and over, He’s there with His arms wide open!
As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross. That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ. But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.
As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way. You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks. Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.
Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere. He had similar emotions. The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38). He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible. But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39). Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.
You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life. But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions. As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.