August 6, 2019
No doubt about it, the prophets of the Lord had a tough and thankless job. They had a message from God, and most of the time those for whom the message was meant, didn’t want to hear it.
Hosea 13:1-16 Colossians 4:2-6
by Sam Ward
Clergy of St. Mark UMC (Knoxville, TN)
Smoky Mountain District
The prophets spoke of calamity, destruction, exile if the people of God didn’t change their way. Then there is Hosea, one of the recorded minor prophets. Hosea was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel just before it is conquered by the Assyrians. Hosea is told by the Lord to take a prostitute as a wife, and his children are given names of judgement passed on kingdom of Israel.
Hosea speaks of horrors that are to come on the people who are no longer considered God’s people in Samaria (the Northern Kingdom). “Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open” (Hosea 13:16).
But why? Where was God’s compassion? “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hidden from my eyes” (vs. 14).
God’s compassion is hidden because the people had forgotten what it means to be thankful.
Earlier in the chapter we read (vs. 4-6) and can see how God remembers all that he has done for Israel, providing for them ever since they left the captivity of Egypt. Hosea reminds us that there are blessings always coming from God; we just fail to recognize them. We fail to respond to God with thankfulness even when we look at our lives and say we are “#blessed.”
We may be blessed, but is it just a response to the good things that are happening in life right now? Or are we living thankful lives? True thankfulness is a response, and comes with responsibility. However, God says of Israel, “…they were satisfied, and their heart was proud; therefore they forgot me” (vs. 6).
I confess, that I like so many stories we could read of Israel struggle from allowing complaints to outweigh thankfulness. Or I become overly proud of my own accomplishments, and Hosea reminds me to stay humble, to remain thankful. Hosea reminds me to be grateful, because God is doing more than I may realize.
Changing our perspective, and seeing God’s gracious gifts each day helps us to know that our accomplishments are not our own, and our complaints truly do not outweigh God’s blessings.
The apostle Paul, though in prison for sharing the gospel, remained thankful for all that God was doing through the message of Christ. He reminds us in Colossians 4:2 to “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.”
Being thankful is one of the simplest ways for us to realize that life is better than we deserve. Israel, in the time of Hosea failed to realize the importance of thankfulness; however, we know God did eventually offer salvation, even to those in Samaria, and even to us.
For the gift of salvation and for life we are thankful.
Through thankfulness we can produce small miracles to help those around us, as well as ourselves. The world is full of pain, suffering, hardship, disappointment, and regret. The world is full of all the things, the prophets warn. So why not turn that around, and be thankful for life?
Thankfulness is contagions, and costs nothing more than a choice to do it. In choosing thankfulness, we share in the witness of God’s grace, and we might just see God’s compassion in those with whom we share our thanks.
God of grace and mercy, we are thankful for this day, for the breath we breathe, and for the opportunities we have to live. May we live each day with gratitude in our hearts for the blessings we have received; that we may be a blessing to others. Amen.