Faithful to the Unfaithful

Bible Reading: Hosea 1; 2; 3

Probably the best way to really understand someone else's pain is to suffer the same experience. God made an unusual request of the prophet Hosea to do just that – experience a glimpse of God's pain first-hand. As God remained faithful and forgiving when Israel was unfaithful to God, so Hosea was asked to remain faithful and forgiving to an unfaithful spouse. Hosea felt what God felt as, time after time, his wife, Gomer, chased after other men. Each time, the Lord instructed the prophet to seek her out and welcome her home in love.

God made a covenant with Israel, saying, "I will make you my wife forever. I will be honest and faithful to you. I will show you my love and compassion. I will be true to you, my wife. Then you will know the Lord" (2:19-20). He lavished his love on her; he protected and provided for her.

But she rejected his love and pursued other lovers. Her adultery provoked his anger. He tried to lead her away from temptation. He confronted her with the consequences of her actions. He tried to make her realize the phony shallowness of her adulterous relationships. It broke his heart to watch as "she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot" (2:13). He hoped she would someday realize that he was the one who always loved her and provided for her. He longed to hear her say, "I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now" (2:7).

When tough love didn't win back Israel's affection, God tried the tender approach. He tried to "allure her" and "speak tenderly to her." He said, "I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God' " (2:23). Even though she had rejected and disgraced him, he still deeply loved and cared for her.

Oh, Lord, forgive me for the times I have taken your love for granted and chased after other things that could never satisfy me. Forgive me for misjudging you and questioning the depth of your love. Each time you corrected me or showed me mercy, the longing of your heart was the return of my affection and devotion. As you have pledged to me your love and faithfulness, I now pledge you mine. I promise to love, honor and cherish you from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'till in death we meet face to face.