Will 9/11 ever be just another day in September? I don’t want to turn the television on today. I don’t want to write the date on a check or a blog post. 9/11 is just a day to endure knowing tomorrow will be 9/12. We can endure almost anything for a day. We don’t want to forget, we just don’t want to remember. There were dark times for the people of Hosea’s day as well. He wrote some words of hope that I want to share with each of you.
The Minor Prophets were an interesting bunch, and Hosea is at the top of the list. His prophecy comes first in the sequence of the books for a reason. The first thing God wanted his people to understand was how much he loved them. God asks Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute – and that seems to be a strange request for God to make. God wants Hosea to understand how he feels when his people love idols more than him. The closest comparison was marital infidelity.
Gomer has children and God assigns their names to reflect his displeasure at Israel’s unfaithfulness. God wants Hosea to understand that there are consequences to living apart from his blessings. It breaks God’s heart when we don’t love him as we should, and it breaks his heart to not be able to bless us like he wants to. All of us who are parents understand that feeling, even in our own imperfections.
The family is the best description God could use to define the relationship between himself and his children. It isn’t a perfect description, but it is close. God describes his relationship with Israel as a broken marriage and a broken family. But after he describes the brokenness, he describes what he wants to do to restore the relationship. God told Hosea that he wanted to “make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15).
On 9/11, it felt like our country was breaking. I was the mother of teenage boys when I watched the plane fly into the second tower. I remember praying for everything I could that day. I remember praying that my boys would be safe if our country went to war. 9/11 was personal for all of us. I still don’t know why God didn’t stop those planes, or why he did stop that last one. The White House is probably standing today because Todd Beamer, a regular husband, dad and Sunday school teacher, and several others gave their lives by taking that plane off its course.
9/11 will always be a good day to bow our heads and ask, “Why did you allow that, God? Why did people have to die? Why did you let the bad guys win? What should we learn?”
For today, it will be good to remember that the Valley of Achor, which means Valley of Trouble, can be a door of hope. God warned Hosea that he would allow the crops to wither and die, and the vineyards to fail. He said that the culture would be lewd and that Hosea’s wife would be adulterous. But then God promised that he would allure his people to the wilderness where they could be separated from their idols and their fallen culture. In the wilderness God’s people would be betrothed to him forever, “in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion” (Hosea 2:19).
God allows us to experience the consequences of sin while finding a way to allure us back to a right relationship with him. There is always a door in the Valley of Achor, and it is a door of hope. Maybe when another two decades have passed, I will be able to look at 9/11 and know why God allowed it. Maybe I will see that door of hope. Maybe there won’t be two decades to look back on. Maybe the door of hope is about to swing open and Jesus will enter through it.
But until that day, we need to remember that God loves us too much to let us go. He will chase us, allure us and pursue us until we are betrothed to him in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion forever. God’s arms are full of blessing that he wants to lavish on those that walk in obedience to his word. The Valley of Achor is a valley of trouble and we have all experienced those desert times. Jesus Christ is waiting at the door of hope – and you can find him.
9/11 doesn’t have to be a bad day of memories if we have hope. We always have hope – his name is Jesus. So, to quote Todd Beamer, “let’s roll.” It’s time to set a new course – towards that door of hope.