Thursday, November 01, 2007

Learning of God in Hardship

The parable of the prodigal son tells of a wayward spindrift son of a farmer, who after spending his inheritance in licentious living ends up working for someone else taking care of animals’ that were an abomination to him. Where once he was favored now he was the least, even less the animals he cared for. The Prodigal Son remembered how well he had it home. He remembered how much his father loved him. He remembered that the servants in his father’s home were better off than he was there. He now missed it. He desired those things he used to have. He thought to himself, “I will go back home, and ask for my father’s forgiveness. Perhaps he has mercy on me, and let me be as one of the servants.” Without the hardship the prodigal child would have never learned his lesson. He learned to appreciate what he had before: his father’s love and care. He learned first hand the old adage that goes, “No one knows what they have until they lose it.” Ultimately, The Prodigal Child learned he could trust and depend on his father.

It seems that God put Gomer in a similar situation. We know that after marrying Hosea she went back to her sinful life. And, it seemed that at first she profited immensely. But, God had plans to bring her back. Let us read in Hosea chapter two what God did. In verse three God says he would, “strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.” God adds in verse 6 and 7, “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them…” God continues with His plan on verses 8 through 12,

Hosea 2:8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.
Hosea 2:9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.
Hosea 2:10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
Hosea 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
Hosea 2:12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.

In the end “shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” Hosea 2:7. God made it hard for her to succeed in her life of harlotry. She had to admit that she was better off with Hosea. She recognized Hosea truly loved her, since after all she did to him, Hosea bought her back and brought her back to him. Word is she stayed with him for the rest of her life. She learned she could trust and depend on her God given husband. Furthermore, she learned could trust and depend on God.

Just as the prodigal son, without the hardship she would have never recognized how good she had it before. She knew not what she had until she lost it. Just like the prodigal child, she learned that her own efforts were not enough to give her what only God could.
The Apostle Paul learned this lesson well. He believed it is better to be with God regardless of the tribulation than, not be with God at all. He knew that without the hardship, He would have never experienced God’s goodness. Yes, it would have been easy for Paul to doubt God’s providence when trials and persecution continued after His conversion. But, Paul understood that God had a purpose for the trial. As we read in 2 Corinthians 8-9,

2 Corinthians 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
2 Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Paul still saw God’s love and mercy in all things he went through. It seems he could not fathom not having that in his life.

Can the same be said of us? Without the hardship God puts us through we will not know and experience the goodness and mercy of God. The heat of trials and tribulation is God’s way of showing He cares for us. It is His way of disciplining us. We may not understand His providences now, but as Paul says, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God…”” For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Corinthians 13:12). In time we will see that the hardship God put us through was the best that could ever happen.