The Grace of Frustration

The book of Hosea is often overlooked. But it is a powerful picture of God’s grace and discipline for us. I encourage you to read it again if you haven’t in a while.

But for now, here’s a quick thought from Hosea 2:5-8. The passage says this:

For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.

The surrounding context will help us understand what God is saying here. In the previous chapter, Hosea, God’s prophet, has taken a wife who is promised to commit adultery at some point. In chapter 1 she does so, and here in chapter 2 we see that she is still going after her lovers. God’s purpose in having one of his prophets take an adulteress wife is to paint a picture of the people’s unfaithfulness to and betrayal of the Lord.

Here’s what’s interesting to me:

  • The woman (or the people, keeping with the metaphor) seeks love, happiness, and provision in forbidden places.
  • The woman’s efforts to do so are frustrated by a God who “hedges up her way with thorns” and “builds a wall against her.”
  • Why? So that when she seeks her false gods she will not find them.
  • And then in her frustration she will return to the one who, without her knowledge, has loved her and provided for her all along.

We clearly often pursue provision, happiness, and fulfillment in forbidden places. I’ve got my list in my head, go ahead and start your own. But notice that when failure and frustration catch you, when the job promotion doesn’t come your way, or the romantic relationship doesn’t come to fruition, it just might be God behind the scenes re-arranging your path so that you come back to him, to the place where satisfaction can actually be found.

Frustration and failure are not fun, I don’t naturally wish for them. But Hosea teaches us that there is often grace in frustration.

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