As we come closer to the end of Hosea, I can’t help but read Hosea 11 and get a sense of broken-hearted betrayal.
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away
Many of us are from families that are broken in some way. Parents are divorced; siblings have left the fold; parents have abandoned us; children have walked away. Maybe we have been deeply wronged by a friend or a spouse. It seems there is no end to the betrayal that we may feel in this world. It hurts—immensely.
There is a pain inside that is always ready to surface at the thought of a memory, a special date, or a random encounter you weren’t expecting. It is a pain that can take your breath away and grip your stomach. We walk through a broken world with broken relationships. And yet, there is comfort in knowing that our Heavenly Father understands betrayal in a deeper way than we have ever felt.
This chapter recounts many ways God has shown His faithfulness to the people: He has loved them, called them, taught them, held them, healed them, led them, and bent down to feed them.
What did God get in return? They went away. They didn’t know He was the one healing them. They refused to return to Him. They were bent on turning away from Him.
Their Heavenly Father gives and gives and gives. He cares and loves and heals and feeds. He takes them in His arms to heal them, but all He gets in return is rejection.
Even with this betrayal staring God in the face, He cannot and will not abandon those that have betrayed Him.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
In the midst of being betrayed, God’s kindness and long suffering toward His people is ever present. His heart still looks upon them with compassion. He even promises to return them to their homes. The wayward may be turning their back on Him, but He has not turned His back on them.
I am not trying to teach on how to treat those who have betrayed us, but what I do want us to see is that God understands what it is like. We have a great high priest and a great heavenly Father that knows the pain of betrayal and rejection. When we are faced with this pain, we know we can take our hurts to Him, and He will understand. He can and will give wisdom on how to walk through that hurt. He doesn’t want us to carry it alone, but instead He wants to lead us on the right path with cords of kindness and bands of love.
The other thing I want us to recognize is that God loves us just as He loved Israel. And yet, as with Israel, we often refuse to recognize Him, to follow Him, and to learn from Him. How often do we not know that He is the one healing us? Giving us strength? Caring for us? How often are we bent on doing things our own way and hoping God will keep up?
We are the wayward. We are the ones that betray the One who has loved, led, taught, healed, and bent down to us. Despite His faithfulness, we get lost in our own world or in our own mind and forget to seek Him first. We forget to praise Him for His ever present and always ready love that He shows to us, His rebellious children.
I pray that as we study Hosea we realize we can always run to God with our hurts and troubles. We can trust Him with the hardest parts of our lives, big and small. I also pray we understand that even when we stray, He remains faithful. Praise the Lord that our salvation is based on His steadfast love and not our ability to remain faithful. Take time to thank the Lord for His steadfast love. Take time to repent in areas where you have tried to be independent from Him and tried to bend things to your own will. Lastly, take time to pray about how God can heal you and lead you in wisdom regarding ways that you have been betrayed, for He knows the hurt of betrayal, and He will hold you through it all.