When Israel was a child I love him as a son and brought him out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the more he rebelled, sacrificing to Baal and burning incense to idols. I trained him from infancy, I taught him to walk, I held him in my arms. But he doesn't know or even care that it was I who raised him.
As a man would lead his favorite ox, so I led Israel with my ropes of love. I loosened his muzzle so he could eat. I myself have stooped and fed him. But my people shall return to Egypt and Assyria because they won't return to me.
War will swirl through their cities; their enemies will crash through their gates and trap them in their own fortresses. For my people are determined to desert me. And so I have sentenced them to slavery, and no one shall set them free.
Oh, how can I give you up, my Ephraim? How can I let you go? Hosea 11:1-8 (TLB)
Dianne Fegan and her husband have five children. They are from Queensland, Australia. Raising them brought quite a few challenges. One son in particular went through a very difficult period from the age of 15 into adulthood. They experienced many sleepless nights, tears, anger, and just plain weariness during those years.
Israel, too, constantly tried God's patience by worship false gods and turning their backs on God. Hosea writes that Israel's unfaithfulness resulted in foreign powers conquering their government and exiling their people into distant lands. However, God never stopped loving them: they were children of the Almighty.
Through God's grace, Dianne, and her husband, also never gave up on their soon. They loved him and prayed for him through his many angry years. Today he is a hardworking young man and the father of three delightful children of his own.
As Israel's parent, God offered them all-encompassing love and compassion. And just as God never gave up on the people of Israel, the Lord never gives up on us.
Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for your unconditional love that spills over into our lives and hearts. Give us the courage to love others even when it is difficult, in Jesus' name. Amen.