Hosea 11 paints a vivid picture of God locked in a mighty struggle to love God’s chosen people and to love us. There is such tenderness in this passage, but great frustration, too. “When Israel was a child, I loved him,” Hosea 11 begins. And it is a love that is beautiful and tender. “I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” Our God who is mighty also loves with a tenderness and gentleness that is unsurpassed. The love of a mother for her infant. God’s love for us. Amazing, isn’t it?
So why the frustration? “The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols.” No wonder God is so frustrated! After showing such love to them, and to us, we keep turning from God and giving in to sin. Why do we turn from such amazing love? Why do we keep sacrificing to the Baals of our modern world, and offering incense to the idols all around us? When will we come to our senses and return home? Home to the God whose love for us is beyond what we can even imagine? This is God’s question and the reason for God’s frustration.
And yet, as frustrated as God is in this passage—and at times with us—God’s love inevitably wins. “How can I give you up?” God asks. “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.” God’s love wins. Always. God’s compassion-filled struggle continues until God’s love finally becomes enfleshed in the gift of God’s son. God bends down from heaven to feed us, to nurture us, and even to die for us, rather than give up on us. Because God simply can’t help but love us. And all that God wants in return is for us to be so filled with that love that it spills everywhere. So that our compassion would grow warm and tender, too, until all the world knows this same amazing love.
James Laurence serves as pastor of First, Albemarle. He is blessed to be married to an amazing wife, and to be the father of two grown children. He enjoys pondering God’s word and its implication for our world and sharing these ponderings on his blog, mypastoralponderings.com.
1. Take a moment to ponder God’s amazing love for you. What does it mean to you to be loved by God in this way?
2. Even when God is frustrated with us, God’s love never quits. Is there someone in your life that you are struggling to love right now? How might this passage encourage you?
Heavenly Father, your love for us is utterly amazing. Forgive us when we question that love, or turn from it, and forgive us when we struggle to share your love with others. Help our compassion to grow warm and tender like yours, so that all those around us would come to know your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.