Surely God is too big to cry?
But not according to Hosea. Sure, he’s never reduced to helplessness, but that does not mean he’s never reduced to tears. For love is something that you cannot coerce by mere exercise of power or strength of will. Love is something that we can always refuse to give if we insist upon doing so. We can even deny it to omnipotence.
Hosea knew from personal experience that there is no pain in the whole world quite so intense as that associated with unrequited love. Some of us, I guess, know it too. For, like him, we have been rejected by those we’ve loved: our family, our lover, our church?
Well, the prophet would have us realise that God does not just offer us patronising pity when we feel like that. He knows exactly how we feel because he’s been there himself. He is no stranger to the pain of a broken heart.
You want to see how much the heart of God is wounded by our callous indifference to his love? Then look at the cross! Its very shape symbolises the fierce collision of contradictory emotions which Hosea speaks about. There the divine love and anger collide in one momentous catharsis.
As the Apostle Paul puts it, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (II Cor5:19).
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds, only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds but Thou alone.
(Jesus of the Scars by Edward Shillito – written while on service during the 1914-18 war)
Please note that Dr Clements plans to launch a free audio archive of his 20-year ministry in Cambridge this Easter. The website will also provide free access to his past books, publishers permitting, which have long been out-of-print.