Read Hosea 11:1-4
1 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
2 But the more I called to him,
the farther he moved from me,
offering sacrifices to the images of Baal
and burning incense to idols.
3 I myself taught Israel how to walk,
leading him along by the hand.
But he doesn’t know or even care
that it was I who took care of him.
4 I led Israel along
with my ropes of kindness and love.
I lifted the yoke from his neck,
and I myself stooped to feed him. (NLT)
To love is to be vulnerable. To open your heart to someone else is to open your heart to the possibility of it breaking. If you want to keep your heart intact, you need to wrap it up in a protective cocoon. It may not break, but it will certainly shrivel.
We may believe this when it comes to loving other imperfect people. They are bound to let us down due to their fallibility. But it is also true in relation to our loving God. To love him involves a certain abandonment to him. He is assuredly perfect and means us no harm. And yet to love him involves a lowering of our self-defences, a willingness to endure hardship in his name. Loving God may involve some heartbreak of its own as we are invited by him to forsake some other competing loves.
And we see from the Scriptures that God is not immune from the heartbreak that comes from love. When God decided to love his broken world, he opened himself up to a universe of pain. Our text today is but one example of this. Loving another person involves no guarantee of a payback, of a reciprocal love.
Even so, we usually take the risk and acknowledge the possibility of heartbreak. We know from bittersweet experience that love and pain are not opposites but close companions.