“It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me” (Hosea 13:6).
Hosea 13:5-6 describes a cycle that we as humans get ourselves into time and time again. There is a cycle that happens in our own personal lives, and even in our nation. We are in a place of need; God provides for our needs; we are satisfied by God’s provision; we deceive ourselves into thinking that we’ve been self-sufficient to provide our needs; we become proud; and then we forget God. Oftentimes this cycle comes full circle in how our “forgetting God” leads us to difficulty. Whether it is God who brings discipline to us to lower us to the point that we realize we can’t do it on our own, or the natural consequences of our actions lead us to a low place, we end up in the place of realizing our need for God. Thus, the cycle begins again. This is exactly what God is describing happened to Israel in the wilderness.
It is interesting to think about how this has been seen in our own nation here in the United States. Back on 9/11 when we were so viciously attacked on our own soil, many people “turned back to the Lord.” Whether they attended church again after taking a hiatus, they attended a few prayer vigils, they started talking about God more often, or they searched God’s Word for answers, there was a small “re-awakening” that took place for a short amount of time after 9/11. Of course, as the cycle goes, that “need” was quickly forgotten.
In thinking about the United States, it is truly fascinating to see the beginning of this cycle present in the beginning of this nation. Back in 1620, the first pilgrims came on the Mayflower, landing on the shores of Cape Cod. This group of settlers came from England primarily seeking religious freedom. They were true products of the Reformation. The same reason Luther had to hide is the same reason that the pilgrims made their way to this nation. In England, reformers were being burned at the stake (Thomas Cranmer) and put in prison (John Bunyan). Because of this persecution, the pilgrims made their way to the new world to have the freedom to worship God according to their convictions. You see the beginning of the cycle in the beginning of this nation. They were in a desperate place of need, so they relied on the Lord. God provided, and slowly over time this nation has “figured out life” apart from God, and have gradually drifted to where it is today.
As you consider this cycle, I wonder where you are. Are you in the place of need? Are you in the place of comfort and plenty? Are you in the place of forgetting God? When we live with our hands wide open in need of God’s work, we will see God’s work. When we live with our hands clenched around the good that we have been given, we will not look for God’s work, and we will therefore not see it. We must put ourselves in a place of needing God no matter how comfortable we are, or we will naturally find ourselves in that vicious cycle. When we are proud, we will need to be humbled by the Lord. I can’t think of a more terrifying place to be before our Creator than to be in a place of needing to be humbled by him. May we humble ourselves to the point where our entire lives are lived with hands wide open!