The LORD does it again—He stretches our thinking and our loving.
“The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. —Jeremiah 31:31-32
You know what I do. There are a lot of troubled or unhealthy marriages out there. Does the LORD really mean that He loves His people like a husband loves His wife?
How is a battered wife going to hear this verse? What about the divorced couple? Is the LORD wrong here? Is His husband-loves-wife metaphor dated, too specific, or idealistic?
The easy answers may be yes, the LORD does not have this right because this is true: husbands do fall short to the glory of God. (In fact, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23.)) But I’m not challenging God’s intent through Jeremiah, and I don’t think you should, either.
“Huh?” You could be asking. The “Huh?” is what we should be asking because with that one-syllable question comes another. “Well, how does a husband love his wife?”
Now we get into theory. Now we start talking about principles and practices. How does a husband love his wife? From that comes an even better question. How should a husband love his wife?
The LORD speaks to this. Here in Jeremiah 31:32, the LORD is the husband. Those covenant-breakers pulled out of slavery in Egypt, are the wife. Dropping gender identification here in 2018, we know this truth: we are the wives here. Each of us has terribly dropped the ball (Romans 8:28).
But the LORD, like a faithfully married covenantal partner, does not abort or abandon us. He stays with us. He lives into the love He has for us. He not only forgives us countless times, but also does something more, something better, something deeper: He understands how we are hardwired. He knows our histories. He sees how our past hurts that still act up in the present in some truly shattering ways.
That’s love. That’s His love for us. And out of this love, how can we not love Him back?
I’ll share a story about a husband and a wife. Apply this story not in its specifics, but as a partnership. After some 50-years of marriage, “Betty” is diagnosed with dementia. “Bob,” who has recently retired from his 60-hour a week small business, takes over. Now Bob, the career-long breadwinner, hasn’t cooked or cleaned. Like ever. Laundry? Yeah, no to that job as well.
But he does it all for Betty. Every appointment. Every detail. Every meal. Every day. All Bob.
Why? He loves His wife.
Again, take the specifics or gender ID out of this son and mom, wife and wife, or daughter and grandfather. You know the dynamic closest to you. And you DO know what love can do.
That’s the love God has for us, and that’s why God uses the metaphor He does.
We can be small or singularly-minded. A perfect example is this husband/wife deal metaphor we can see as sexist. That should stop. That should all stop, and love, in its greatest forms, should start, or continue. Why? Because the LORD loves us, and we can love the LORD back by honoring, valuing and blessing the light-giving and love-giving relationships we do have.
PRAYER: Lord, You are my example, and I thank You. And yes, I love You. Oh, do I love You—and to show this today, I will love as You love those so close to me. Amen.