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Forgiveness

People are deeper than so many of us allow. And such depths of the human heart cannot be measured or even understood, like we want them to be… people listen, sometimes they even hear… but only God knows how we’ve helplessly fallen to pieces; only God sees the tears streaking our faces behind shut doors; only God knows the very pain we’re feeling… For those of us who are feeling abandoned… His beloved left Him too. Who was God’s beloved… it was us… it was me. Perhaps, you held someone very precious to you, and you gave a very precious part of yourself to them…and they broke you. Can I tell you something? I’m sorry.

In this kind of brokenness, there is a desperate need for forgiveness in all of us and there are two people we need to forgive: the other person… and ourselves.

There is a story that changed my life and taught me to hope… and forgive.  I don’t know where you are all at, as I said… but I know that God does… let me tell this story of amazing grace, redeeming love, and a deeper forgiveness… Let this story take you on a journey.  I pray that you all remember; Remember that God loves you, and that He’ll always take you back, and give you the grace to show others that same forgiveness.

So, here is the story I want to share with you.

Hosea’s Gomer

Hosea, was beautiful man, esteemed, kind, and godly… and God asked him to marry a prostitute.  Hosea did this, knowing that he was risking his heart. He married Gomer, and Hosea found his heart drawn to her in deep and unselfish love. Wow, God directed Hosea to do what none of wants to; to love vulnerably and selflessly, even foolishly. The early days of their marriage were beautiful and Hosea’s heart felt the security of a faithful love… but that was all to change.

After the birth of their first child, Gomer became restless and unhappy, like a bird trapped in a cage, which led to Hosea’s unrelieved agony. Gomer’s absences from home grew more frequent and prolonged and soon Hosea was feeling pangs of suspicion about her faithfulness to him. He lay awake at night and wrestled with his fears. He preached with a heavy heart during the day. And his suspicions were confirmed when Gomer got pregnant again. It was a girl this time, and Hosea was convinced that the child was not his.  At God’s direction, he called her Loruhamah, which means “unpitied” or “unloved,” implying that she would not enjoy her true father’s love(ouch… I wouldn’t want that name). The name was symbolic of Israel’s wandering from God’s love and the discipline she would soon experience. But even that spiritual message could not soothe the prophet’s troubled soul.

No sooner had little Loruhamah began to toddle when Gomer conceived again. It was another boy. God told Hosea to call him Lo-ammi, which meant “not my people,” or “no kin of mine.” It symbolized Israel’s alienation from Jehovah, but it also exposed Gomer’s sinful escapades. That child born in Hosea’s house was not his.

It was all out in the open now. Everyone knew about Gomer’s affairs. While the entire second chapter of Hosea’s prophecy describes Jehovah’s relationship with his unfaithful wife Israel, it is difficult to escape the feeling that it grows out of Hosea’s relationship with Gomer, sandwiched as it is between two chapters that clearly describe that sad and sordid story. He pleaded with her (2:2). He threatened to disinherit her (2:3). But still she ran off with her lovers because they promised to lavish material things on her (2:5). He tried to stop her on occasion (2:6), but she continued to seek her companions in sin (2:7).

…Hosea would take her back in loving forgiveness and they would try again. But her repentance would be short-lived and soon she would be off again with another new lover.

Then the final blow fell. Maybe it was a note, maybe word sent by a friend, but the essence of it seems to have been, “I’m leaving for good this time. I’ve found my true love. I’ll never come back again.” How Hosea must have suffered! He loved her deeply and grieved for her as though she had been taken in death. His heart ached that she had chosen a life that would surely bring her to ruin. His friends were probably saying, “Good riddance to her, Hosea. Now you’ll be through with her adulterous ways once and for all.” But Hosea did not feel that way. He longed for her to come home.

We cannot escape the message of his undying love. Hosea wanted to see Gomer restored to his side as his faithful wife. And he believed that God was great enough to do it. One day word came that Gomer had been deserted by her lover. She had sold herself into slavery and had hit bottom. This was the last straw. Certainly now Hosea would forget her. But his heart said “No.” He could not give her up. And then God spoke to him: “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods” (Hos. 3:1).

Gomer was still deeply loved and cherished by Hosea even though she had broken his heart so cruelly, and God wanted him to seek her out and prove his love to her. How could anyone love that deeply? The answer was right there in God’s instructions to Hosea, “even as the Lord loves.” Only one who knows the love and forgiveness of God can ever love this perfectly. And one who has experienced His loving forgiveness cannot help but love and forgive others. Christian husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25 ), and Hosea is an outstanding biblical example of that kind of love.

So he began his search, driven by that indestructible divine love…

…love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love that never ends. And he found her, ragged, torn, sick, dirty, disheveled, destitute, chained to an auction block in a filthy slave market, a repulsive shadow of the woman she once was. We wonder how anyone could love her now… she wondered how anyone, let alone the man she had betrayed, could love her now… But Hosea bought her from her slavery. He actually paid for her, brought her home, and eventually restored her to her position as his wife. God used Hosea’s supreme act of forgiving love to melt her heart and change her life.

…Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we must suffer in silence. The need for open and honest communication would demand that we share what we think and how we feel, and what the wrong has done to us. God tells us how much our sin grieves Him. Gomer certainly knew how her affairs were tearing at Hosea’s heart.

Forgiveness does mean, however, that we will waive the right of demanding justice on the other person’s offenses; that we will show mercy. We will refuse to retaliate in any way to make the guilty person pay. We will absolve him of all guilt. God can use that forgiving love to melt hardened hearts and change callused lives quicker than anything else in this whole wide world. That is the lesson of Hosea and Gomer, the lesson of forgiveness.

We need to love like that. We need to forgive like that. We need to drag the festering hurts we have been harboring in our hearts to the cross of Christ—where we laid our own burden of guilt one day and where we found God’s loving forgiveness—and we must leave them all there. When we fully forgive, our minds will be released from the bondage of resentment that has been building a city of brokenness in us; a crushed place without walls and safety.

Right now, God wants to rebuild the broken walls of your heart; to hold your heart; to keep it safe… to help you to bravely dare to reach out and do the same to those who have hurt you most.

Perhaps you were the one who was abandoned. You were a Hosea and you gave everything only to have the heart ripped out of you… I’ve known that abandon, but never from God, though I believed at times even He had turned away… But we are truly never alone and God always knows. He sees what no one else can… He looks and beholds you with the love of a Creator, a Savoir, and a father… a perfect father… He will never abandon us. Like Hosea, He will forever wait for us… and search for us. He will pursue us. It is His redeeming love that will bind up the brokenness in our hearts, and make us able to love; to truly love and… forgive.

In this life, we wear the scars of every kind of hurt. But if we dare, truly dare; we’ll look up and see the scars across His body… on His face, His side… His hands; the scars that say… “I took everything; your sin, your heart ache, your brokenness… I took it, because I love you… and I always will.” When you think of scars, think of His… and you will know hope… Even freedom and release.

God was there when the greatest kind of hurt overtook you. He was there when your life turned into ash and hurt, and scars. And, He is here for you now… tell Him how you feel. Just start there. If it means getting mad at him, do it. He‘s God; you‘re not going to hurt Him… He wants you to reach out to Him. Why? So He can take your hand and fill it with hope, mercy, love, and peace… so that you will carry the ALWAYS He is promising you. Our words to God don’t have to sound beautiful… He created speech… we can’t impress Him… when I talk to God, I know that my sentence fragments and faltering words aren’t what He’s hearing… just be real with him… vulnerable and honest. He hears our heart’s cry better than we think…

Know this, you are loved… I hope you close your eyes at night and know that… and when you look in the mirror, I hope you see the word, “beloved,” written across the glass over the image you see… that your eyes perceive what the heart alone can recognize… That there is a God; a God who desperately loves you; who wants to take this agony and pain that is crushing you; that leaves you feeling so alone and branded… Oh, He wants you… forever and always… and I hope you know that.

One thing more… you ARE a blessing and a truly amazing, beautiful creation of God… don’t believe the lies written across the glass of a mirror… if you have to; break that mirror… God wants you whole.

Yes, be whole, and forgive the Gomers in your life… even if that means you.

Rest in God’s hope, and His forever love,
Charity F. Beck


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