“My people are bent on turning away from me…
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?…
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.”
Our God shows powerful love in these verses. It strikes me each time I read them. To show such mercy and steadfastness toward a people who seem to continually fall away…if someone is bent on turning away from you, intent on rebelling, wouldn’t you reach your limit and finally cut them off?
But that’s one of the wonderful realities of our God. He is long-suffering. His patience and His love aren’t affected by human standards. They far surpass us. “For I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”
For those of us who have taken refuge in the name of Christ, trusting that He saves us through His sacrifice, we know only grace. We will know the power of God’s love for us and His everlasting faithfulness. There will never come a point when God reaches His limit and casts us away. His justice for our sin has been satisfied in the outpouring of His wrath on Christ as He hung on the cross.
Knowing Christ, we experience the beauty of how God works within us. He offers compassion and forgiveness, meeting us where we are, but He does not leave us there. He doesn’t leave us in our sin or brokenness. “‘I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will heal him’” (Isaiah 57:18-19).
Our God sees the rebellious ways of His children, and in love He heals us. He leads us in paths of righteousness, knowing that it is in righteousness that we experience freedom and pure joy. All other joys are fleeting and often tainted with negative consequences or shame. All other freedom is an illusion. But in the righteousness of Christ, walking in the truth of our Lord and living in His light, our hearts overflow with joy and we are able to run in freedom as He takes our grief and burdens on His own shoulders. He is the God of all comfort, mending our hearts and binding up every wound. He brings us peace. He is our peace, and it doesn’t matter how far away we are. His arm of salvation and healing is long enough to reach us.