I feel sorry for Hosea. A prophet who served during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah in Judah, Hoseas first words from God were Go and marry a promiscuous wife and have children of promiscuity (Hosea 1:2).
What did I do to you, Lord, that you are so mad at me? Hosea might have asked. But God had a purpose in mind. He said: For the whole land has been promiscuous by abandoning the Lord.
Hosea, you see, was to be an object lesson of Gods displeasure with the fact that Israel had decided they wanted to play the whore with gods who are not really gods at all. Hosea even had children with names, like No Compassion and Not My People. I dont remember seeing those on the top ten lists of popular names, or did I just miss something?
Later on, God says And I will have compassion on No Compassion; I will say to Not My People: You are my people, and he will say: You are My God (Hosea 2:23).
Hosea was willing to go along with this, to have his wife and kids and his whole life used as a way to draw an obstinate people back to Yahweh.
I wonder, does God ever choose to use your life as an object lesson? He might not require you to marry a prostitute, but he may lead you purposefully into suffering and take away from you something that is precious. It isnt to punish you (he punished Jesus on the cross for our evil), nor to play with you. He wants to move in your life so fully that when people look at your suffering they will be drawn to the Father.
This doesnt happen by you being perfect but by being open and broken to the Lord. Remember he said: My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The relationship others have with God through your suffering makes it totally worth it every time!
How? you say. Well, I know someone who has recently gone through some pretty serious health battles. This person could have been bitter and complaining and wondering why God doesnt like them. Instead they merely said that If God chose this road for me then Im okay with that. That kind of attitude shows a mature believer who can be used to show others that embracing Gods plan, even if that means suffering, is okay.
As a matter of fact, God can often use the suffering saint more powerfully than the one who is doing well. Its because people live with the reality of suffering all the time. Acknowledging it as a part of this fallen creation, and embracing God as the ultimate answer is real and honest and very moving.
Tom Fuller is the pastor for Calvary Chapel Newberg