I had to finish Hosea. Just couldn’t take it much longer. I feel like I’ve been beaten up. I am sad for the Israelites. I am sad for God. I am sad for Hosea. They just keep sinning. They just keep moving away from God. And God keeps loving them, while He is fuming at their disobedience.
Kind of like how I was feeling this morning when E wouldn’t get out of the bed after being asked at least 300 times and a threat that I would make him go to school in nothing but pajamas with disheveled hair and no deodorant if he didn’t get moving. Clearly, the difference is God followed through while I was bluffing.
But, anyway…… all of that anger and disappointment and images of a terrifying future was too hard to continue much longer. I want to hear about God’s love…..I need to hear about God’s love. So I quickly finished up Hosea today. Thankfully, it ends well. God confirms that He loves them and will not be angry forever.
Then, onto Joel. I was prepared for a message of doom and gloom and lots of sinning by those Israelites since Joel is also a prophet, but there are some differences. Hosea seemed more directed toward Israel while Joel seems more directed to Judah. Hosea seemed to be living an analogy for the relationship between God and His people through his marriage to Gomer (admit it, you thought of Jim Nabors again) while there doesn’t seem to be any information that I can see as relating to Joel’s personal relationships and family (outside of stating who his dad is in 1:1). There’s still a lot of pictures of future devastation with locusts, drought, etc…..Scary images, indeed, if you are hearing Joel’s message.
But there….in Joel 2:13 is the verse my heart is waiting on — a verse that offers hope in the midst of impending disaster, “….Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love….”
I wish I could believe the rest of my life would be easy. Days free from stress, sickness, disappointment, sorrow, anger, financial difficulties, job market worries, marital strife, broken hearts, guilt, and housework. Yes, I just threw housework in the same category as sickness and sorrow. But you and I both know that’s not going to happen. Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and there will be collective sadness in France over a terrorist attack, there will be a flu epidemic that will hospitalize or even kill children, there will be economic inequality in our nation, and, yes, there will be laundry that needs to be washed and put away. People spend their entire life wondering why do bad things happen in this world, but an answer will not prevent these bad things from happening.
The important thing is not why do bad things happen to people. The important thing is in today’s focus verse….God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, offers never ending love, and is ready to accept us with open arms.