Summary: God's passionate love for his children; despite their disobedience he cannot give them up.
Hosea 11:1-9 “Inseparable”
Video “Borning Cry”
My mom’s favorite (and perhaps most effective) discipline for poor behavior was having the child sit on a chair in the corner. It was difficult for the child to be excluded or marginalized. When the time out was over, mom would hug the child and welcome the child back into the group.
“Borning Cry” and the words of the prophet Hosea in this Sunday’s lesson are assurances of God’s love. Even though we might have disobeyed and rebelled God’s love is a constant in our lives. It seems that we never tire of hearing words of reassurance that we are loved.
A LOVING PARENT
The images of God that Hosea uses in this passage are not common ones. God is pictured as a loving parent—really a loving, almost doting mother.
In verse three God remind Ephraim (Israel) that God taught him to walk. Do you remember how children learn to walk? First they start pulling themselves up to a chair or table. Children then walk around the table and chairs learning to put one foot in front of the other. Finally they turn away from the table and take their first steps—to the encouragement and coaching of their parents. When they fall down they are picked up and encouraged to try again. This happens countless times until the children finally successfully take their first steps. Then there is a lot of celebrating. God is with us when we take our first steps of faith, when we step outside of our comfort zones and when we step onto a path that we don’t know where it will lead.
God continues by sharing how God took them in God’s arms and healed them. Children don’t realize all that parents do for them. When my two granddaughters get sick, my son and his wife tag-team. One stays home while the other goes to work. The one who is home plays “Nurse Nancy” to the child—holding them, caring for them, feeding them, cleaning up after them and entertaining them. If the sickness lasts more than one day the parents switch roles. In our “not so good” days God cares for us. God nurses us until the tough days are over. Then God tells the people that God is like a parent who lifts the infant to his or her cheek and “loves on” them.
There comes a time when children need to declare their independence from their parents. It is an important though painful stage of human development. It is not an easy time for either the youths or the parents. One parenting guru once said, “When they are young children step on your toes. When they are older they step on your heart.” This is certainly what happened with God’s relationship to Israel and with God’s relationship with us.
Earlier in the book of Hosea Israel is portrayed as unfaithful; as a woman who did not keep her marriage covenant. Israel wondered after other gods and willfully rejected calls God to return. We follow the same pattern as Israel. We decide that God is not going to be an important part of our lives. God doesn’t do what we want God to do so we pout and say that we aren’t going to follow God. We decide that we would rather be selfish and self-centered instead of serving and sharing.
Still God loves us. As a parent we realize that no matter how rebellious our children get or how much trouble they get into we still love them and we will never stop loving them. We grieve for them knowing that their lives could be so much better if they would begin to make some right decisions. We never stop loving them.
As human beings we need to discover who we are and become our own selves. In our relationship with God, though, we need to realize not how independent we are from God, but how dependent we are on God. We are truly ourselves only when we are “in” God.
My knowledge and wisdom increased exponentially between the time my sons were fourteen and twenty-one. I went from not knowing anything to knowing what I was talking about. About a year after having his first child my youngest son took me aside and shared with me, “Now I understand what you were saying.”
God invites us to stop and reflect on the love that God has for us. It is a deep, steadfast, sacrificial love. God’s love is a love that comforts us in difficult times and gives us the courage to face the challenges of life. God’s love is a love so great that we are inspired to in turn love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves.