In this reading, we are given the image of the parent/child relationship between God and God’s people. God has loved Israel and brought them to a safe place. God has tenderly nurtured and guided and fed them. And yet, the children of Israel turned away from God, worshiping and sacrificing to other gods, almost as if they have forgotten all that God has already done. This faithless people have refused to repent and will suffer the consequences of their sin, becoming captives once again, this time to the Assyrians.
Like many parents who practice “tough love”, God will not give up on God’s children. Rather than finding satisfaction in their suffering, God grieves with them. “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.” God anticipates the day when the people will turn back and be drawn once again to the Lord. And they will be welcomed.
If you are a parent, can you identify with this? You’ve tried your best to love and nurture your kids and they go down what you see as the wrong path? Have you ever gotten to that place where you’ve had to practice tough love? What was it like to see your children suffer the consequences of their actions? Were you tempted to rescue them? Did you? Whether you did or did not rescue them, what was the outcome? Maybe you have been the child who has wandered astray. How did your parents respond? What can we learn about God and from God in this reading in terms of the parent/child relationship?
Offer a prayer of confession for those times when you have wandered off-course and find assurance of God’s steadfast love.