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Broken Heart - Hosea

When I was just out of high school, I was engaged to my high school sweetheart.  People down play young love, but as a happily married man (not to her), I can say with confidence that I did love her.  One day, we were driving down the road and she said "We have to talk".  It was in that tone people get when you know what is coming is going to be hard. I just listened.

Tears formed in her eyes and she looked at me with love and pain as she said "I was really drunk last night, and I slept with..." she went on to explain that she had slept with my best friend.  This was the guy I had grown up with.  He was the first person I met after I moved to a new state.  We did everything together.  My brain started to get foggy.  I was having trouble making connections.  I was overloaded and I could not understand how, or why the two people I loved most had betrayed me like that.  Alcohol was not enough of an excuse.  My face was wrenched in pain and soaked in salty tears.  I remember I could taste the salt.  I started to form a question, but before the words left my lips, she had more to say.

She braced herself for the words that, to this day, I believe she meant, but I still cannot understand how such duplicity can coexist.  "I love you, and I want to stay with you, but it was really good, and I would do it again."

I started to stammer, unable to comprehend what I was supposed to do with that.  I had a lot of questions and I was confused.  I didn't know who to be mad at.   I had emotions I didn't know what to do with.  We broke up, but the rest of that story is long.  To this day, this is the biggest betrayal I have ever experienced.

Last Sunday our Senior Pastor delivered a sermon on Isaiah's prophecy of the coming Messiah.  In this sermon he pointed out that we rarely think of God as experiencing the deepest sadness, but that Isaiah's prophecy demonstrates God's deep sorrow.  This connected intellectually, but it was not until I read this week's Narrative Lectionary reading that it really hit my heart.

This week in the Narrative Lectionary we read Hosea 11:1-9.  Hosea was a prophet that was called to demonstrate God's love through action more than words.  He married a prostitute that kept running off with other men. He was called to love her through it.  This particular section of Hosea is God expressing sorrow and pain over the way God's people kept running off, but promising to love them through it.  This is a pain I can relate to.

Do you remember the worst betrayal that you have ever experienced?  Bring that memory to mind.  Feel it, just for a moment.  Now consider this: God loves you, and experiences every pain and hurt with you.  God is at your side through each tear, feeling empathy and the rawness of his own pain in your experience.  Many of us turn away from our pain, like I did when I left my high school sweetheart.  I protected my heart and walked away.  I can't imagine the open wound of our God, who for thousands of years has chased after us, unwilling to harden his own heart against our unfaithfulness.  Unwilling to act on his anger.

How are we console the deep wounds of our God? How are we to comfort the comforter?  We can't, but it's not our role either, God says: "For I am God, and not a man".  We have a God with broad shoulders and the will to bear our burden as well as his own.


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