“When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me” (Hos 13: 6)
How would you describe your faith when things are going well for you?
When the bills are in and I have no money, when that relationship is tense again, when another deadline is looming and I don’t know how to fit everything in, it is easy to pray. I can find the scriptures that promise He will provide my needs, I know what James says about asking God for wisdom, and God has shown me that if I seek His Kingdom first, particularly with my time, then He will take care of everything else.
When I need God, He is there. He is faithful. And He doesn’t let me down.
I wish I could say that I have the same drive to seek the Lord’s face when life is good. When I have no need for Him. I wish I had the same passion – all the time – to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, just because He is amazing; just because I love being with Him.
Why are there days when I have to make myself do that? Even though I love God with all my heart.
Hosea’s prophetic word to Israel in the 8th century BC reveals something of their (and our) human nature. The prophet was instructed to “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her” (Hos 1: 2), and that arrangement will mirror the relationship God had with His people.
When the people needed God and called out His name, He was there for them because He loved them, but more often than not, “a spirit of prostitution (was) in their heart”. The prophet lamented, “they do not acknowledge the Lord” (Hos 5: 4).
The book of Hosea is an intense and painful read. The Lord sees those he loves, the children of Israel, like a person who is sick, with painful sores, plagued with a disease of his own making. But whenever God healed him, the sin in his heart remained deeply entrenched. And even when calamities returned as a result, the nation preferred to look everywhere but God for help. They didn’t always turn to Him. They were unfaithful to the One who created them, provided for them, and loved them.
I know that my relationship with God today is very different to ancient Israel’s, not least because Jesus took my sickness and sores – that is, my sin – and crucified them to the cross. Israel in Hosea’s day was headed towards judgment by the hand of Assyria, while we, as followers of Jesus are on a journey towards life with Him.
But I cannot escape the fact that it is still, sometimes, a battle to be wholly devoted to Him. I am being transformed, by the grace of God, but my heart can easily become satisfied. And proud.
When things are going well, I conclude it must be something I’ve done. I rejoice in the win and feel very smug. When it comes to prayer, I can’t think of anything I need today, so it will be a short prayer time.
Back in the 8th century BC, the Lord in His infinite love and mercy, continued to call his people to him, despite their fickle relationship with Him. He longed for the day when He could “heal their waywardness and love them freely…” (Hos 14: 4). A new relationship where the Lord will “be like the dew to Israel; (who in turn) will blossom like a lily” (v 5).
A new relationship when fruitfulness will lead to thankfulness and new beauty and creativity. Perhaps that is the better direction to go when I have run out of things to ask for, when life is going well. An even deeper relationship with God defined by thankfulness and creativity.