Monday, August 31, 2009

The End to Forgiveness

I had a chat with a good friend today who was going through so much pain because of a betrayal that happened in their marriage. A cut that's happened to my friend years ago still bleeds at this time and still hurts over and over again. I honestly could not imagine how shattering it must have been to know that your spouse has cheated on you. Trust disappears into the shadows of the night and forgiveness seems to have a very high price attached to it.

All this reality in their lives made me think about Hosea and his wife Gomer. Hosea has married a prostitute who had been an adulteress. Everybody was aware of how Hosea's wife had been passed from one lover to another. Gomer and her lovers must have, for so many times, slipped into secret rooms and back-of-the-town inns to shamefully defile her marriage. She had other men touching her body, whispering her name. She served men other than her husband, Hosea, and had stroked their faces and held their hands. It is beyond imagination how utterly shameful the acts of Gomer were and how utterly painful Hosea's ordeal must have been to know about all this. The reality of it all must be so surreal when it all fell into place in Hosea's mind and heart. People must have told him a million times to leave her already. He must have heard family and friends curse Gomer for what she has done. Many might have told Hosea to walk away.

It must have been so difficult to be in this predicament and forgiveness must have been the last of all the options Hosea could take. Yet, it amazes me how their story ended. The bible tells us that Hosea bought his wife Gomer back! All her wretchedness, her vileness, all the shame and hopelessness he bought back and he welcomed Gomer back into his arms as if she was new and untouched and undefiled. Forgiveness in the picture? I believe there was more to it... and I believe I can call it amazing... Love? of course, but Grace? much so. Amazing Grace. That was what Hosea has given out to Gomer. Loving her despite of. Accepting all her faults and embracing her as if she had none. Looking into her eyes as if she hasn't betrayed him. Grace... Love... Forgiveness... amazing. But how? How can Hosea ever come to grips with all that she's ever done to him? How was he able to do all that he had done?

A beautiful truth unfolds as we look deeper. For I am sure that Hosea was deeply hurt and ashamed. He'd been betrayed. He'd been stabbed in the back many times. He'd been torn into pieces. Amidst all this, though, Hosea had something else going on. He had a God who was bigger than his shame. He had a God who was bigger that Gomer's betrayal. He had a God who was bigger than the wounds inflicted on his ego. Hosea obeyed God. As God commanded him to buy back Gomer, he obeyed. Was it because he wanted Gomer back? Maybe. But I guess it was more because he wanted to obey his God. The God who was the witness of the marriage covenant he had with Gomer, no matter how wrong their relationship must have started out. Hosea obeyed. Amidst the hurt, Hosea obeyed. Amidst the shame, Hosea obeyed. Amidst the betrayal, Hosea obeyed God.

I guess that made all the difference. When Hosea obeyed God, everything must have been a lot easier. Hosea was able to focus on God's goodness and not Gomer's infidelity. He was able to focus on Gomer's potential for good and not on her betrayal anymore. This is what marriage is all about, anyway, focusing on GOD and not on our circumstances. Because in a marriage betrayal does happen, and it doesn't mean it's always having to sleep with another other than your spouse.

I know I've betrayed my husband so many times by the promises I've broken and I've been hurt so many times by promises he hasn't kept . Yet, even if we've gone through so much all these years, it is still beautiful to run back to each other. Both of us broken, both of us crying, both of us focusing on what God can do rather than on what we have done. Even if we do not know if tomorrow we would break each other's hearts again, we walk through life knowing that the two of us had become one and that God was the one who rolled us into one. About Forgiveness? I guess there's really no end to forgiveness. Besides, hasn't our Father in heaven forgiven us a million times, too?

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