Summary: Misery is God’s Message of Mercy 1) It awakens us from sin 2) It draws us to Him
There’s been a lot of cooing and cuddling going on in the Habben household this week. With Grandma, and an aunt and uncle here, baby Maya has sure received her fair share of love. Babies have it made don’t they? They’re adored by everyone. Wouldn’t it be great to be treated like that again? Doesn’t it seem that as we get older, people adore us just a little less every year? For example our parents no longer do everything for us but expect us to do things for ourselves and for them like pick up the toys, clean our room, and wash the dishes. They may even do things that hurt us like ground us when we’ve disobeyed. Could it be that our parents don’t love us as much as they did when we were babies? Of course you know that’s not true. Our parents love us just as much, if not more, now than when we were first born. They just show their love for us in different ways now that we are older. Some times that love may even hurt as they seek to correct behaviour that isn’t good for us.
The Bible teaches us that God’s love for us never falters. He loves us just as much today as he did when he first called us to be his children. Nevertheless there are times when God’s love also hurts. This morning we’re going to learn that Misery is God’s Message of Mercy. 1) It awakens us from sin, and 2) draws us to Him.
In our devotion this morning we meet a prophet who is not that familiar to us although his message is. Hosea was a contemporary of the prophet Amos and lived about 750 B.C. Both prophets had been sent to witness to the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the height of its power. Although things were going relatively well economically and militarily for Israel, its spiritual health was, at best, anaemic. Just a century before Hosea and Amos started their work, Israel witnessed Elijah rout Jezebel’s prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. The reformation that followed, however, didn’t run very deep. Instead of giving themselves over wholeheartedly to the Lord, the Israelites continued to worship idols along with the true God.
You can imagine how frustrating that must have been for God who had been so patient and done so much to bring the Israelites back to him. Well the time had come for God to change tactics. No, he hadn’t stopped loving the Israelites; he would just show that love in a different way. Through his prophet Hosea God said, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. 15 Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hosea 15:14, 15).
Instead of handing everything to them on a sliver platter and letting them enjoy economic and military success, God himself now was going to tear the Israelites to pieces. He did that by letting them be overrun by the Assyrians and then taken into captivity. His purpose for doing so was to awaken the Israelites from their sin.
Why do you suppose God is so desperate to have people turn from their sins? I mean what’s the big deal? Sin is a big deal to God because he is holy, and therefore cannot stand sin. It’s like water and oil, the two just don’t mix. It’s even worse than that with God, however, because he will not forever tolerate sin. Finally in the end he must punish those eternally who continue in their sinful ways.
Since sin has the power to damage us forever in the fires of hell, God in his love will send misery into our lives to awaken us from sin. That’s why sin often has painful consequences. Through those painful consequences God wants us to realize just how dangerous sin is to us. It’s the same reason God put nerves in your hand. When you do something that’s not healthy for your hand, like stick it in a fire, the nerves send pain messages to your brain causing you withdraw your hand from the fire before you do permanent damage to it. In that sense pain is a blessing from God. It’s even more of a blessing if pain and misery make us realize that the sinful action we’re engaging in isn’t healthy for us and will lead to eternal destruction.
Does this mean then that every time we suffer we’ve some how sinned? That’s what Job’s friends thought but it’s not true. Some times God allows us to suffer even though it’s not for a specific sin. He has promised though that when we do suffer he won’t give us more than we can handle nor will he abandon us. We can also be certain that our suffering will strengthen us in some way. As we said last week, suffering can strengthen a weak faith as we are forced to rely on God’s promises. God also may choose to send suffering our way so that we will be better equipped to help others who go through the same experience. Whatever the misery, we can be certain that it’s a message of mercy for it shows that God takes an active interest in our life. Therefore when misery comes your way wake up and take stock of your actions. If you are engaged in sin, turn away from it so that you won’t have to face the eternal consequences.