I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. — Hosea 2:20
Loving unconditionally can go against our natural way of thinking, counter-intuitive. It feels good to love those who love us. But loving someone when they are acting unlovely—well, that’s tough. But we are to love that way anyway. Why? Because that’s the way God loves us, and if we are His children then we will want to reflect to others what we know of Him. Do you remember in Day 19 when we studied how “Love is Impossible”? Well, this is the dare that is going to put action to that lesson. Loving unconditionally even when there has been unfaithfulness is straight out of the Bible, and straight out of our lives.
The authors of The Love Dare take us to the Old Testament book of Hosea. Here is some of what they share about that story in Day 22: “The account of the prophet Hosea is one of the most remarkable in the Bible. Against all logic and propriety, God instructed him to marry a prostitute. He wanted Hosea’s marriage to show what Heaven’s unconditional love looks like towards us. . . He had loved her, but she had spurned his love. They had grown close, but now she had been disloyal and adulterous, rejecting him for the lust of total strangers. . . . But he welcomed her back into his life, expressing an unconditional love. This is a true story, but it was used as a picture of God’s love for us. He showers His favor on us without measure, though in return we often don’t pay attention. . . .We have rejected Him in many ways—even after receiving His gift of eternal salvation—and yet He still loves us. He still remains faithful.” (p. 106,107)
If your comment to the account of Hosea and his wife is, “I could never do that,” you’re right. Not in your own strength. But with God, nothing is impossible. The truth is that He calls us to a love that is supernatural, totally from Him: “But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . . If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.” (Luke 6:27-28, 32-33) Jesus’ teaching goes on to add, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35,36)
Deployments call a marriage to a higher level of commitment, a deeper love. If there have been struggles already, then forgiveness must be exercised if there is to be renewal in your relationship. A good book is Torn Asunder by Dave Carder and organizations such as FamilyLife and Focus on the Family have excellent websites which can help to restore hurting and broken relationships. There is hope!
Pray. Pray for the kind of faithfulness in your marriage that mirrors the faithfulness of God and your gratitude for His redemption. And then approach this dare with confidence.
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Choose today to be committed to your spouse, even when times are tough between you. Say, or write, these words to your husband or wife: “I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.”
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another. — John 13:35
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:17-19
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. — 1 Peter 4:8
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. — 1 Thessalonians 3:12
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. — Ephesians 1:7,8
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)