Some people love living close to their extended family and thrive on gathering with friends and family in their homes.
Similarly, for some people, relationships seem to come easily. Whether through their church, friends, or marriage and children, they are surrounded by those who truly love and care about them. They thrive in the world of relationships.
But for many others, relationships aren’t so simple. Some have deep hurt within their family, or within work or church relationships. Others find constant pain in their covenant relationship of marriage, due to cheating, harsh words, or addiction.
Any relationship can thrive; any relationship can fall.
All relationships require sacrifice and surrender.
All of us were created with a desire for deep relationships. As women, we like “ladies’ night” and coffee time, and chatting about home and work with our friends. We long for security in our relationships, and the assurance we are wanted, are desirable, and needed. These desires aren’t new; they’ve been woven into us by our Creator since the beginning.
Hosea was a prophet of the Old Testament. He was chosen by God to speak to the northern kingdom of Israel regarding their iniquity during the reign of several kings. (Hosea 1:1-2) When we meet Hosea, God chooses a wife for him…but not the kind we would expect.
God commands Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute.
Impure, unclean, likely to be unfaithful, yet this is who God ordains Hoesa to marry?!
Why would God want him to marry someone HE knew did not love and would not remain faithful to Hosea? In Hosea 3, God commanded Hosea to rescue Gomer, for she had returned to prostitution. Hosea didn’t just offer her a lift home, but rather, bought her freedom and restored their covenant relationship.
In this marriage, Hosea represents God.
Gomer represents Israel.
To be blunt, she also pictures us!
We are sinners who have not remained faithful to God, yet His love for us remains steadfast. While Gomer’s freedom cost Hosea a monetary sacrifice, Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice to restore our spiritual freedom and restore our relationship with God. (Romans 8:1-4)
Even though this story took place thousands of years ago, I’m sure Gomer shared our desire to love and be loved in a satisfying relationship. Perhaps she just couldn’t believe in Hosea’s love, so she sought it elsewhere. Do we find ourselves reflected in her choice? It’s hard to believe the perfect God of the universe, the Creator of all things, would love us unconditionally, so we search for love elsewhere.
I imagine Hosea also had his own dreams. Did he desire a pure relationship with his wife? Did he desire a faithful wife? One who followed the Lord? But, God had other plans . . . plans inviting Hosea’s surrender.
Sometimes, God has other plans when it comes to our relationships, too. We may wonder why God is directing our paths through difficult relationships.
I have wrestled with many relationships over the course of my life. Starting in about 5th grade, I became stuck in a pattern of one-year-long friendships. Every fall, it seemed like EVERYONE else continued building their friendships while I started over. I was shy, and it was hard.
I made some friends early in college, but by the end of my sophomore year, a “friend” betrayed me, lied about me, and turned others against me. Thankfully, I had a few friends who saw right through the mess and helped me along the way. How hard it was for me to trust and start over again!
I always desired a relationship that would bring marriage and family. Burdened by the hurt I carried and the loss of trust from past experiences, I longed for a relationship that did not materialize.
“Maybe God has called you to be single,” a friend would suggest.
Or after a breakup, “It’s better to be single than married to the wrong person.”
While usually well-intentioned, such comments still landed harshly.
What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me? Why did so many people in my life come and go? Why was I constantly walking the lonely road?
Eventually, I felt God inviting me to surrender, just as He had Hosea.
He invited me to surrender my plans, my life, my relationships, anything that took priority over Him. Over and over, I had to choose God’s perfect way over my own. In Luke 14:25-27, Jesus explains how we are meant to love Him more than ANY relationship we may have. He is the One we seek.
I can’t say I understand all brokenness, or why certain relationships fall apart, but I can say, God is faithful. In the midst of multiple chapters immersed in pain and suffering and grief, Lamentations 3:22-23 states,
“Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish,
For His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness!”
I look back after getting married at 42 and see how God was working all along. As hard as it was to surrender and live with the loneliness, it was worth the wait.
Relationships are hard. But our relationship with the Lord is constant, persistently unending. We can hold on to Him in the ups and downs of our human relationships for He alone is faithful and steady.
“Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor [Trouble] into a gateway of hope [. . .]
I will take you to be [mine] forever.
I will take you to be [mine] in righteousness,
justice, love, and compassion.”
(Hosea 2:14-15, 19)
Surrender Day 14
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