Failing in Love is a book by Juliette Sweeney which explores how failed relationships can be the springboard for successful ones later on. At just 60 pages it’s a quick read, but the reflection questions give you the opportunity to delve deeper into how you can apply what you’ve read to your own life. The wealth of personal experience included, as well as the writing style make it relatable and practical. It’s available to purchase on Amazon. Towards the end of Chapter 8, entitled ‘Let Me Love You,’ the reader is asked to ponder on the following questions: “What has your love created? What will your love create?” The reader is reminded that “true love is impactful” and they ought to consider “the kind of mark that you would like your love to leave on this world long after you’re gone.” This blog post looks at Hosea and Gomer’s story through the lens of the aforementioned questions.
“Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them. So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution.” (Hosea 3:1-3a, NLT)
As Christians, one thing we’re concerned about (and rightly so) is knowing God’s will. We’ll cheerfully add a ‘God-willing’ to the end of something we’re hoping to do, or utter ‘if God wills, then yes’ timidly to something we’re less inclined to do. When Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute (1:2) he probably wished there was ambiguity surrounding God’s request. Unfortunately, God makes it clear that Hosea’s marriage is to be symbolic of the relationship He has with Israel. I’m sure a prostitute wasn’t necessarily the wife he had in mind, yet his desire to do God’s will prevented him from being disobedient.
Your obedience shouldn’t be led by feelings.
It would be fair to assume that there would have been some shame and embarrassment associated with a prophet of God marrying someone with Gomer’s past. Things didn’t get easier for Hosea. Fast-forward to 3:1 and we can see that she’s retreated to her former lifestyle. Her unfaithfulness would have stung. If he had any thoughts of replacing her with someone of a more ‘suitable’ background, then he didn’t have time to entertain the idea. God insists that they reconcile; therefore, Hosea buys her back. This redemption mirrors Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf in spite of your unfaithfulness.
What Has Your Love Created?
Hosea’s story is a reminder that even when you do your utmost to ensure that your love creates a safe space for your spouse, there’s no guarantee it’ll be appreciated or reciprocated. Through his own experience Hosea was able to identify with just a fraction of the rejection that God feels on a daily basis. What I find interesting about this love story is Gomer’s blindness. What was so appealing about prostitution that she had to return to it? What was lacking in her marriage that she had to stray from it? Why wasn’t Hosea enough?
Given that Hosea’s marriage was intended to be a metaphor for God’s relationship with us, it’s unsurprising that Gomer was unfaithful. Looking at this story purely from a temporal rather than spiritual perspective (i.e. a marriage where one person has a particularly difficult/traumatic past), it’s easy to rationalise Gomer’s actions:
- Perhaps she didn’t know how to connect given that she was accustomed to fleeting, meaningless encounters
- Maybe she didn’t want to connect; committing to Hosea might have required more effort than she was willing to give
- It’s possible that she felt she didn’t deserve Hosea’s love; he belonged with someone ‘better’
It’s important to remember that your love can create the beauty of peace, warmth and faithfulness, and yet still reap the ugliness of hurt, rejection, and infidelity if the other person doesn’t reciprocate your efforts. However, you should never base the quality of your love on what they are displaying. Scripture is clear on exactly what your love should create and that should always be your standard.
- Ask yourself why you need to seek things outside your relationship (both romantic and spiritual). Romantically, have you communicated what’s missing to your significant other? Spiritually, have you asked God to show you how to be content with all that you have in Him so that you don’t need other gods?
- Reflect on how past experiences impact the quality of love you create/be sensitive to how the other person’s past experiences impact their quality of love.
- Strive for a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love in spite of the challenges mentioned in (2) i.e. even if it’s easier to love ‘less’/give a lower quality of love, choose not to.
Hosea’s love was truly impactful and one that Gomer had probably never been exposed to hence her response. You too are Gomer… however, you can choose to respond differently. If you aren’t happy with what your love has created in the past, then there’s still time to ensure that what it will create in the future is better.