Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Faith and Patience

In Hosea’s day, the ruthless Assyrian nation was an ominous threat in the Near East and, by Yahweh’s instigation, its eyes were soon cast towards degraded Israel.  Israel had been a “whore” and rejected God’s steadfast love.  Their silly games seeking immediate satisfaction through manipulation of the baals… .cult worship, prostitution and a slew of impersonal human atrocities that swiftly perverted fellow Israelite lives… .had drawn their affections away from a God who abided patiently in love….  
God has a habit of being slow.  Have you ever noticed this?  The thing you ask for lingers on a distant horizon and shows up nearly too late.  The restoration you seek comes in bits and pieces; connected like a jigsaw puzzle with thought and precision.  Your expectations are not presented neatly arranged in a gift basket on one fine day, but, they are expertly laid one layer at a time... .a long time.  Babies are knit together in the womb.  Marriages are reconciled over the entire course of their together life.  Houses, family visits, anticipated vacations, flower beds… .all these good things require a dollar saved over and over, a seed planted and watered and watered, mile after mile passing under the tires.  Nothing good comes too quickly.
…even God.  Usually, He has not shown up yesterday.  His heart is rooted in the building block of Today based on the faithfulness of Yesterday’s promise and a hope for Tomorrow.  God comes to us in layers, over years, with thought and precision.  He reconciles a relationship and builds a house.  God patiently loves us forevermore.  
Like a marriage, all of our marital expectations cannot be met in one day with God.  His marital promises are true, yet, they come with the mutual relating and reconciling of two very diverse partners.  Hosea, our prophet of current topic, was married.  This basic human institution suggested the necessary presence of both faith and patience.  Faith: the acknowledgment that what is hoped for in experience will come with persistence and commitment.  Patience: the long-suffering devotion that waits an interminable length to experience that hope.  These are my own definitions forged by my personal need to be faithful and patient.
No doubt these also defined Hosea’s need.  Marriage to a prostitute surely dimmed hope, yet, according to Hosea’s own prophetic writings, hope must stay alive, provoked by the heart of Yahweh to once again delight in His people and see them delight.  The faith and patience of Yahweh, expressed with real suffering, refused to douse possibilities of reconciliation and conjugal joys.  God still hoped, therefore, He was faithful to His bride and waited patiently….
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.  And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope,”  Hosea 2:14.  
Not only was He faithful, but, His faithfulness would be the initiator of her restoration.  He did not reject she who rejected but put Himself out as her Helper, her Spouse.   He would go into her deep valleys of many, many mistakes and would be her faithful, patient Healer… .Restorer… .Savior.  Only a strong heart can pledge faithfulness to a flighty spouse and promise the renewal of deep affections.  Only a strong commitment can itself insist on being the source of that spouses restoration.  The thwarted Yahweh promised to be Israel’s eternal source of hope.  I dare say, we have much to learn from Yahweh in terms of Faith and Patience.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post. I listened to a sermon a while back about Faith and Patience. The preacher said how he's had some ugly victories in his life, and he said sometimes we just have to have the kind of faith and sticks it out. It may not be pretty, but because we stuck it out, and through faith and patience we inherit the promise of God.

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