Turn Around: You're Loved
For this month's devotional posts, Hannah is sharing some amazing verses that point us to the hope we have in God - the best foundation we can have for 2017!
Sometimes life can just get you down. You consider the inadequacies, flaws, failures - there are so many times and contexts in which we can feel like we're not good enough to be where we are, or doing what we're doing. We can feel like we're not good for those around us, ourselves, and even - or especially - God.
I want to share with you some hopeful verses from the concluding chapter of the book of Hosea, in which the Israelites, after hearing of God's great anger, were given words of repentance to speak. These words show that they had been chasing after worth and identity in the wrong places, yet that they could still return to God.
HOSEA 14:1-3 SAYS: 'RETURN, ISRAEL, TO THE LORD YOUR GOD. YOUR SINS HAVE BEEN YOUR DOWNFALL! TAKE WORDS WITH YOU AND RETURN TO THE LORD. SAY TO HIM: 'FORGIVE ALL OUR SINS AND RECEIVE US GRACIOUSLY, THAT WE MAY OFFER THE FRUIT OF OUR LIPS. ASSYRIA CANNOT SAVE US; WE WILL NOT MOUNT WAR-HORSES. WE WILL NEVER AGAIN SAY 'OUR GODS' TO WHAT OUR OWN HANDS HAVE MADE, FOR IN YOU THE FATHERLESS FIND COMPASSION.''
The word 'downfall' encapsulates the truly self-destructive nature of the Israelite's actions. They had fallen down from God's favour by turning to other things to save them, things such as the militarily powerful 'war-horses' and the nation of 'Assyria'.
Further to their striving after these symbols of power, the Israelites had trusted other 'gods', things that '[their] own hands have made'. The Bible speaks out loud and clear against trusting idols or false gods, human-made objects and goals that seem to promise security and goodness but actually don't, as they are not the One True God.
I would suggest that today we look for our worth, identity and 'good-enough-ness' in many different places as well. More Precious hosts myriad blog posts about some of these things: academic or athletic achievement; image and looks; popularity; relationships; even the idol of being busy. Have a browse! It's an important thing to consider, as Hosea communicated to the Israelites - we do not want to be people who forget our true worth in God because we are too busy chasing after 'what our own hands have made'.
This is especially true when we realise that our true worth in Jesus is so incredible: God provides us with a deep and beautiful foundation for identity, a foundation that roots out our sin and reestablishes who God made us to be. What a great gift, that God loved us while we were still sinners! (Check out Romans 5:1-10.)
We will explore this great gift of identity and foundation more in next week's devotional. Get excited! ;)
Hannah is in her second year of studying Theology at Cambridge and is passionate about seeing girls grow into their God-given identity. She has written a book called God's Daughters, about knowing that you are enough.