Have you ever felt beyond being loved? That if people knew who you really were – complete with all your faults, problems, and mistakes – they would turn away and leave you? You know who you truly are behind the facade so often kept up.
Who would love the real you?
God answers this question for us in the Scriptures, and one of the most beautiful passages for me about the extent of God’s love is in the book of Hosea.
Hosea was a prophet of God during a time when Israel and Judah had abandoned their faith. In their stubborn rebellion, they would not worship or serve the one, true God, but instead chose to give themselves to the false gods of the nations around them.
Knowing the hearts of the Israelites, God had a plan. He told Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute that would be unfaithful to him. She would constantly be running from him and seeking other men. Even then, though, God told Hosea that he was to pursue Gomer, buy her back, and love her unconditionally – regardless of who she was or what she did.
I can’t imagine what Hosea must have thought. “God, seriously? What are you thinking? Why would you ask me to do this – something so difficult and painful? It’s not fair, God!”
This would have no doubt been my reaction, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the prophet had felt the same way, but God graciously revealed to Hosea His purpose for the life he was called to:
And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods….” ~ Hosea 3:1
God’s purpose for Hosea to endure this trial and hardship in life was so that, when the Israelites would hear of Hosea and his unconditional love for Gomer, they would be visibly reminded of God’s love for them.
We are like Gomer. We resist and rebel against God, running away after other things. We despise Him because we want to do what we think we should do, and we try to find our happiness, fulfillment, and joy in everything else. We give God absolutely no reason to love us, but every reason to despise and condemn.
But yet, God chooses to show us rebellious, sinful people compassion. His love for us isn’t based on our works or performance or our reciprocation of His affection; instead, He chooses to love us in spite of all that we are – imperfect, hateful, messy, rebellious, and undesirable – and chases after us. He didn’t simply redeem us with no implications, but in order to bring us to Himself, He had to pay a high cost – the cost of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Love isn’t a feeling. It is a choice. God chose to love us despite who we are – who you are. There is nothing you can do to be past loving – not for God. He sees all that we are, he knows the depths of the depravity and wickedness of our hearts… and yet, even knowing you at your worst, He still wants and desires that you would come to know Him and His pursuing love:
“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” ~ Joel 2:12-13
You are not past loving. No matter who you are or what you have done, God is willing and ready to forgive you and redeem you back to Himself. You have no reason to ever be left alone or unloved.
Why would you hold back from His love?