“I can think of younger days when living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow
I was never told about the sorrow
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
Tell me, how can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go ’round?” (Bee Gees, 1971)
What do you do when your heart is broken?
Hosea reminds the Israelites that they are family, that regardless of how far they have strayed from the covenant, God’s mercy is there for them. Reconciliation with God is still possible, but not the way it is. They must choose “to put away their harlotries from their sight and their adulteries from between their breasts.”
Lifestyle choices and allegiances do matter. They have always mattered. The difficulty was that they were easily seduced in believing that these idols were the source of their provision and protection. “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and water, my wool and linen, my oil and drink.” It’s one thing to bet their future on false promises. It’s quite another to bet their children’s future on those same, empty promises.
We often hear of tough love, defined as follows: “love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline), especially to promote responsible behavior.” What does tough love look like in Hosea?
“I will hedge up your way with thorns, and wall you in, so that you cannot find your paths. You will chase your lovers but not overtake them. Yes, you will seek them but not find them.”
“For you did not know that it was I who gave you new wine, and oil, silver and gold but you gave these to Baal“
Have you ever sensed the ache of a husband who has given his wife everything, only to have these squandered in meaningless pursuits of pleasure and hedonism? Maybe this is your story. Maybe you can relate to how God must have felt, to have given them everything and yet be treated with disrespect, even disdain. What do you do when the family is broken?
Who will mend God’s broken heart?