14th Week in Ordinary Time – Return . . . to the Lord. (Hosea 14:2)
In a speech in 1910 about courage and risk taking, US president Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. . . . The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly . . . who spends himself in a worthy cause.”
The people of Israel were certainly marred, but not from wars and battles. For them, it was their struggle to stay faithful to the Lord in the midst of much temptation. Too often they had stumbled and given in to sin. But rather than sit on the sidelines and criticize them, God calls them to get back up and keep fighting: “You have collapsed through your guilt,” he says through Hosea. “Return . . . to the Lord, your God” (Hosea 14:2). He makes it clear that God is with them, ready to forgive and restore them.
As we walk through life, we, too, will struggle with sin and temptation. There will be moments when our faces will be marred. There will be times when we won’t feel like fighting the battle anymore. It’s so much easier to give in! But this is when we can remember the “worthy cause” we are fighting for: our relationship with the Lord and the building of his kingdom. There is nothing more precious and noble!
Listen to what God has promised to do for us every time we turn back to him: “I will heal their defection . . . love them freely . . . be like the dew for Israel” (Hosea 14:5, 6). He is always ready to flood us with love at our weakest and messiest moments. No matter how often we do it, when we reach out to God, he will help us.
Remember too that God has also decided to spend himself on a worthy cause: you! Your heavenly Father, whose power is made perfect in your weakness, has a reservoir of grace, compassion, and strength waiting just for you. All you have to do is ask.
“Father, thank you for your mercy and love, which are new every day. Be with me today; help me stay true to you.”
Psalm 51:3-4, 8-9, 12-14, 17