Love is Patient. Love is Kind.
Day 1: Why is love so hard?
Read: Hosea 11:1-4
Over the course of this week I felt the Lord leading us to lean into the book of Hosea.
Maybe this is a book that you’ve never read before – often reading through some of the prophets are difficult and tedious and confusing.
Ultimately the book of Hosea is a love story – God’s relentless pursuit of His beloved people as displayed by the prophet Hosea’s enduring love for his wife, Gomer.
But even after watching this video synopsis of the book, and the passage I’ve suggested, it begs the question of why love – accepting it and giving it – is just so hard?
Why are we…why am I…simultaneously desperate for true, lasting, unconditional love yet constantly returning to my broken, counter-productive, destructive ways?
In today’s reading God’s heart is almost palpable – His anguish over Israel’s forgetfulness and disregard for the way He loves and cares for them is so apparent and raw. God says He “led them with cords of human kindness…with ties of love” and He “…bent down to feed them.”
But He cries that they “did not realize it was I who healed them.”
Over the next few minutes, reflect on the cords of human kindness that God has led you with.
It’s a little counterintuitive isn’t it? How could cords or ties be loving or kind?
Ask God to show you the ways He has lavished you with love in this covid season of limits and struggles and fear and lockdown.
List the ways you have felt or seen His mercy and presence in your life, your work, your family.
Revel in His love by thanking Him for each thing on your list, and confess your propensity to rationalize or overlook His loving kindness.
Let’s stop making it so hard.
Day 2: You can go your own way…
Read: Hosea 4:1-4, 10 – 12, 14
Before we embrace the love story God has written for us we need to first confess all the ways we have and continue to reject Him.
Chapter 4 is a little harsh, isn’t it? It’s tough to read about a people so loved who continually choosing sin and brokenness over righteousness and wholeness.
But before you succumb to the temptation of blaming the Israelites, recognize that we are much the same.
I was struck by the charge “they will eat but not have enough;” and immediately convicted about my discontent and desire to shop and buy and consume more and more when I am already so blessed.
What about you?
What sin in your life is preventing you from walking and living in the loving kindness of God?
How is your tendency to go your own way taking advantage of the long-suffering, patient love of God?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal this to you and confess any sin to God. Use the words of chapter 14 if you can’t find your own.
And take heart!
As you turn from your sin, (the fancy word for that is repentance!) you can know that you are forgiven and restored and blessed.
Claim the promise of restoration in chapter 14:4 and walk in that freedom today.
Day 3: Pace Yourself
Read: Hosea 11:5-11
I’m 5’9”. A decent height for a woman – though most of my height is in my disproportionately long torso and not my legs. Sigh.
My husband is 6’7” and very well proportioned (in my humble opinion )
I learned early on in our marriage that while we may be made for each other, we are not meant to run together.
For every one of his strides I have to take at least 3 – so while I’m a slow and steady kind of gal it was so disheartening to never be able to keep up with him.
Likewise, when he tried to go at my pace it felt awkward and difficult and annoying and, well, you get the idea.
Needless to say, we now bike together.
In Pastor Vijay’s message this week he described patience as choosing to go at someone else’s pace.
To intentionally move slower, or see differently, or choose empathy.
In our reading today Hosea is relaying the ways at which God is patiently loving Israel – that while He sees the outcome and the heartache and the eventual reconciliation – He is willing to go at the pace of His beloved people.
Remember that this prophetic message from God through his messenger Hosea is not only for the people of Israel – but for all His people.
You and me.
Today, I’d like you to rewrite the passage we read by making a couple of small changes:
- Replace any references to Israel or Ephraim or “his children” with your name.
- Replace any references to Assyria or Egypt or enemies with the things in your life that tend to hold you back from experiencing the presence of God in your life. (Things like worry or fear; maybe love of money or independence; maybe distractions like Netflix or alcohol, etc.)
Now read this scripture as God’s message of compassion to you.
Notice how He is willing to go at your pace, let you discover and rediscover His protection and provision for you in your time, in your way.
Thank him for his patience with you and ask Him to make you more like Him.
Day 4: You make me Brave.
Read: Hosea 1, 3
So I get that Hosea and Gomer’s marriage was meant to be a picture of God’s covenant love and commitment to His people.
I just don’t get how Hosea did it.
I don’t understand how he was able to not just obey God’s command to marry an adulterous woman, but he went so much farther that.
He loved Gomer. Truly and deeply and self-sacrificially.
In chapter 3 the Lord tells Hosea to “go and show your love to your wife again” after she’s left him and cheated on him.
Not to just go rescue her, or go get her back from her life of infidelity and prostitution, but to actually show his love to her again.
He asks Hosea to be vulnerable. And ridiculed. And pitied. And shamed. And potentially hurt and embarrassed all over again.
In order to restore her.
Perhaps this is the most beautiful picture of loving kindness we can imagine.
Because in restoring Gomer, Hosea was lending his strength to her.
Where she was weak and promiscuous and selfish he was strong and faithful and selfless.
Where she was broken and poor and shamed, he was whole and generous and honourable.
This is the kind of God we serve.
Listen to this song today and reflect on God’s loving kindness to you. How He lends you His strength makes you strong.
Day 5: Counter Cultural
Read: Hosea 14:9
I’m a Wife. A Mom. A sister. A daughter. A friend. An employee.
I know you play many roles too.
Many of you who are participating in these daily readings are parents, or have parents, or hope to be parents.
You have partners and spouses and boyfriends and girlfriends. Siblings and friends, co-workers and classmates and in-laws.
And whether we like it or not, we can be pretty predictable to them.
The ways we react, what makes us laugh or pushes our buttons or brings on tears.
Our stressors and cycles are on display to those who love us and work with us and our lead by us.
Bu what if today was a new day?
What if today we began to turn the tables on the culture we have cultivated around us and began to live and love like Hosea loved Gomer.
Like God loves His people.
Like Jesus loves you.
What if we asked Jesus to grow in us a long-suffering, kind and patient love for the people He has placed in our lives?
Our passage today says that those who are wise walk in the ways of the Lord,
but His ways actually trip up those of us who are bent to follow our own habits…our own culture.
As we close out this week lets invite Jesus to enable us to live and walk wisely.
We can’t cultivate a long-suffering, patient and kind love without Him…but with Him all things are possible.
Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
Now imagine a typical moment in your day that tests your resolve to be patient and kind.
You could be driving on your way to work. Or picking up the toys yet again. Maybe you’re in a meeting at work, or in a class, or having a conversation with someone who tends to get under your skin. Maybe you’re cooking dinner or deciding on what to watch on the television.
Notice what is happening around you. What is the weather like? Is it sunny or gray?
Is it loud and chaotic or quiet and peaceful?
Who is there with you? What are they doing?
Now look for Jesus.
He is there with you, so where is he? Can you see him?
If you are having trouble finding him, that’s ok. Ask him “Jesus, where are you? I can’t see you. Please show me where you are.”
Once you’ve spotted him, notice what he’s doing.
What is his posture, the look on his face, his body language? Is he nearby or far away?
Now, just talk to him.
Tell him why you are feeling frustrated, or annoyed, impatient or unkind. Ask him to help you.
Feel his loving patience wash over you as He ministers to your soul. Listen to what He says, and allow him to minister to you.
Write down anything He may have said to you, or done for you. Thank Him for his patience and kindness and ask Him for anything that you need to follow His ways.