This morning when I opened my Bible to read, I opened to the book of Hosea. As I started to turn to Romans where I’d left off yesterday morning, I paused. There’s something about the book of Hosea that gives me strength in the tough times. I’ve read it several times and, each time, I’m encouraged to love at a deeper level than I feel is possible in my humanity.
Everyday, there are people around us who need to see God’s love in our lives, not just hear about it in a message. The greatest message that Hosea ever preached to the people of Israel was the one he lived out at home with his wife, Gomer. She betrayed him, abandoned him, rejected him, and cheated on him – not just once, but over and over. Yet, Hosea loved her anyway. He didn’t just love her half-way; he pursued her, showered her with love, forgave her completely and stood faithfully by her side no matter the cost.
We live in a world where, just like in Hosea’s time, people are not inclined to listen to the message of God’s love. The meaning of true love has been corrupted; and, as a society, we’ve believed lies.
We believe that love is about us. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are self-gratifying people. We spend a large portion of all of our days thinking about the things that make us happy. If we’re not careful, we do this in relationships too. With our spouse, our children, our family and our friends. Love isn’t about us, it’s about others. It’s about truly investing in relationships so that others can see the heart of our Father reflected in our lives. Investment kind of love is costly, and it’s not about us.
We’ve quit believing that love pursues. When people around us hurt us, ignore us, reject us or betray us we give up. “Oh well, I tried.” “They will never change, so I’m not going to waste my time any more.” It’s true that sometimes we have to let others live their lives in ways that we disagree with, but that doesn’t mean that we quit pursuing their hearts with love. I love the verse in Hosea 11:8 where we see the heart of God in pursuit of Israel, “How can I give you up, (insert name of your loved one)? How can I hand you over, (insert name again)? ….. My heart churns within Me; my sympathy is stirred.” Somewhere along the way, our hearts can become hardened and we lose our sympathy for the brokenness in the lives around us. We must believe that love pursues.
We’ve quit believing that love never fails. We tend to have an expiration date on our love – a mental checklist of how far we will go before we decide that it’s not working. Hosea modeled a different kind of love. Long before 1 Corinthians 13 was written, he understood that, “love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, things no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” What would it look like if we really lived that kind of love in our relationship with others? It would look a lot like Hosea and Gomer. It would look like the Cross. It would look like redemption.
True love. Unconditional love. God’s love. This love – it’s a redeeming love. It tries again. It never gives up. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Don’t ever give up on love. Please, try again.
I encourage you to do three things….
1. Read the book of Hosea. Really read it, study it. In it you’ll discover the heart of a Father who never gives up on you. No matter what you do.
2. Read the book Redeeming Love. It’s a fictional love story based on the book of Hosea. It’s incredible, you won’t regret it. I’ve included the link below.
You won’t regret buying this – and, you’re likely to buy more for gifts! Here’s the link to the book on Amazon.
3. There’s someone – maybe a lot of someones – in your life that need to hear “I love you, no matter what” – take a moment to tell them today.
I, for one, am thankful for this gentle reminder from my Father today.