As I was studying for Sunday’s message on Hosea, I came across the following from James Montgomery Boice’s commentary on the Minor Prophets. This doesn’t really tie in anywhere with my sermon, but I found it particularly meaningful, so I thought I’d pass it on.
We live in an age where everything good is interpreted in terms of happiness and success. So when we think of spiritual blessing we thing of it in terms of these things. To be led of God and blessed by God means that we will be “happy” and “successful.” In fact, if a Christian does not appear to be happy or successful, there are scores of people who will be ready (like Job’s counselors) to work with him or her to see what is wrong. This is shallow thinking and shallow Christianity, for God does not always lead his people into ways that we would naturally regard as happy or as filled with success. Was Jesus happy? He was undoubtedly filled with joy and all the other fruits of the Spirit. but he was also called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Was Jesus successful? Not by our standards, nor by any standards that might have been applied to him by anyone living in that time. Let us put down as a great principle: God sometimes leads his children to do things that afterwards involved them in great distress. But because God does not think as we think or act as we act, it is often in these situations that he accomplishes his greatest victories and brings the greatest blessing to his name.
If God has allowed tragedy to slip into your life, this does not necessarily mean that you were out of his will when you married that husband or wife, took that job, or made that commitment. He may be giving you a chance to show the love and character of Christ in your situation.
Again, you may be able to learn something of God’s love for you through the difficulty. For what is the story of Hosea if not the story of ourselves as members of that body which is the bride of Christ? We are Gomer, and God is Hosea. He married us when we were unclean. He knew that we could prove unfaithful again and again. He knew that we would forsake him. Still he loved us and purchased us to himself through Christ’s atonement. If Hosea’s story cannot be real (because “God would not ask a man to marry an unfaithful woman”), then neither is the story of salvation real, because that is precisely what Christ has done for us. He has purchased us for himself to be a bride “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph 5:27), and he has done this even though he knew in advance that we would often prove faithless.
Boice, James Montgomery. The Minor Prophets: Volume 1, Hosea – Jonah (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1983) pg 16-17.