Go bring her back.”
“What!” Hosea couldn’t be sure he’d heard God right. Didn’t he know what that woman had put him through?
He had known about her past when he married her but he forgave it and looked forward to a happy life. Slowly, though, he began to suspect that she was unfaithful to him. His last two children’s name reflect that fear. The last one’s name meant simply, “Not mine.” Kind of a strong hint as to his feelings, huh?
Finally his wife Gomer (nice name) got tired of the pretense. Kids, fussy husband, God…that kind of life was too slow for her. She took off. Good-looking men, plenty of money, and a life of ease without crying babies and nasty diapers was her thing. She went back to prostitution. “Sorry about that Hosea; take good care of the kids.”
She left the preacher with three children, two probably not even his, and a broken heart. He lived like this for quite a while. Working, taking care of little ones, praying, hurting–life wasn’t so happy any more but he made do.
He heard news of Gomer from time to time and each time the report was worse. You can’t live that fast for very long and the years started to eat away at the beauty of his attractive wife. Finally one day he heard news that shocked him. She was going to be sold into slavery. As much as he hated what she had done to him, he couldn’t rejoice. Amazingly, he still loved her.
Then God said, “Buy her back.” What?
She probably thought he was enjoying his revenge when he bought her for that paltry sum. But then he surprised her with his love. “You’re for me and no one else now and I’m yours and no one else’s now,” he said tenderly. “What does he see in me?” she must have asked herself. She wasn’t “hot” anymore; she had treated him worse than dirt–and he still loved her?
Hosea’s explanation was simply, “That’s the way God loves his unfaithful people.” If they would let Him, He would buy them back from their sin, even if there’s not a lot left to be desired.
Marriage is a funny thing. We often think we marry one person and we find they’re not like the illusion we had. What do you do? Quit and start over? Hosea had Biblical and ethical grounds for divorce. But his love kept reaching out to his wife. Like God’s love, his wasn’t egotistical.
Many people have found themselves married to someone whose personality has been warped by a difficult childhood or difficult circumstances in life. And, let’s face it, some people are just plain ornery–no excuses.
The result can be a spouse who doesn’t communicate, or who is dominant, or depressive, or verbally abusive, or…, or…,etc.
What do we do in a case like that? “Go get her back!” Not so easy? It wasn’t easy for Hosea either. I imagine that even after Gomer came home it took a while to establish a relationship.
Communication is one of the keys. Screaming or preaching to the difficult partner doesn’t work long. That’s not communication, that’s attacking. You just make them love you less.
Try to create situtations where you can talk.
When my daugter Christi was young if I took her to the restaurant and fed her fried chicken she’d tell me anything I wanted to know. Like a good preacher’s daughter she loved our fowl friends.
Communication is hard work. We need to see what kind of situations encourage our spouse to talk and work to have more and more of them. “Go get her back.” One day Hosea was dreaming out loud, “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hos. 2:14). Maybe the desert nights had been special to Hosea and Gomer when they were young and in love. He wanted to create a situation where communication could happen.
Obviously it’s not easy, but if difficult people are ever going to be reached it will be by the firm, loving, patient, reaching out of someone who loves him. Living with a selfish, difficult person isn’t easy but God calls us to prayerfully reach past the barriers and bring his love into our partner’s life.
“The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with “other things.” Perhaps, then, the denial of our stomach’s appetite for food might express, or even increase our soul’s appetite for God.” John Piper in A Hunger for God