Guest post by Rita Schulte
Marry a whore. Keep her as your wife. She will betray you continuously, but you must love her and never leave her. You will be rejected continuously. You will be seen as a fool. Your life will be painful, your reputation challenged. You will need to trust me. You will need to depend on me. You will always need to forgive, always show unconditional love, and always remain faithful in spite of your feelings of betrayal.
Who would ask such a thing? God did, of the prophet Hosea. Why? He likes using the dramatic to drive home a point. God uses real-life people like you and me to demonstrate the commonality of our struggle. But the purpose of this story illustrates something profoundly deeper. Here, God is telling us the story of his heart. By using the sanctity of the marriage bed and its defilement—something he knew we could understand—he shows us something of his pain regarding the betrayal of the children ofIsrael.
Did you catch the part about Hosea loving his wife and never leaving her? Close your eyes for a moment and freeze-frame the scene. You’ve discovered your spouse has been unfaithful, not once but dozens of times. This is a person you thought you knew. This is a person you trusted. The truth has seared your soul like a hot iron. Every part of your being cries for justice. Hurt outweighs reason. What should you do?
Now, think about the worst betrayal you have experienced. Close your eyes for a moment and recall the pain. Now imagine that you have to experience that pain every day for the rest of your life. And you have to do it with love.
By now, most of you are probably thinking, “No way! I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it!” But that’s what God does. You may be thinking, Okay, but he’s God he’s supposed to love unconditionally. You’re right—and he does. Over and over he demonstrates his faithfulness to us in spite of our rebellion—just as he did withIsrael—and he does it to paint a picture of his heart toward you and me.
Don’t get me wrong—he was angry at Israel’s betrayal and continual idolatry. But consider this: here in this story, as always, mercy is remembered in the midst of wrath. Rejection of his children is not an option.
God never leaves for a better offer. His love is unfailing and his mercies are new every morning.
The story of Hosea provides a powerful window into the heart of God and how his heart breaks over our constant infidelity and wandering. While this story is symbolic of God’s relationship toIsrael, it is nonetheless applicable to each and every child God has loved and with whom he has desired intimacy.
I believe God’s heart is saddened beneath the weight of our lack of faith and trust in his goodness. I believe he is disappointed that we often choose not to see the love of his heart toward us. And just as he lamented overJerusalem in Luke 13:34, I think his heart is broken by how quickly we forget him to chase after another.
Consider this: God wants to show us that even though we whore after other things, even though we don’t trust him, even though we rage at him and blame him for our plight—just as the children of Israel did—he waits patiently for us, constantly showing us the mercy and compassion of his heart. That’s the best Valentines Day gift I can think of.
So, the next time you’re tempted to believe no one understands your pain, remember the story of Hosea and how God demonstrates his faithfulness to us in spite of our wandering hearts.
Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional Christian counselor in the northern Virginia area. She has written a book entitled Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life which is currently represented by Hartline Literary Agency. Rita also hosts a weekly podcast show called Heartline. You can find her at www.siftedaswheat.com.
Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)