A few years ago, our own recently retired Diane hosted a series on her personal blog about women in Scripture. Some of us here participated in that series. Now that she will no longer be blogging, we wanted to re-post those articles and have a place to make them available. Over the next number of weeks, every other Monday, we will feature one of those posts. The first one is by Candy Webb.
The Valley of Trouble
Gomer is considered one of the dishonorable women in the Bible. Gomer was an unfaithful wife to a faithful husband. God used her as an example of unfaithful Israel, spurning His love and chasing after other lovers (idols). The decision to look to other means for sustenance, unmet needs, or affirmation, led Gomer to the edges of the wilderness, and finally plunged her into it. Skirting the waiting silence, desolate expanse of land, and bitter isolation, Gomer imagined bread and water, wool and linen, oil and drink (Hosea 2:5 ) at the hands of her lovers, forgetting that God was the provider of everything she needed. In her mind, other lovers would fill her emptiness, dispel her restlessness, or satisfy the lust she allowed to take control of her life. The Bible states that God hedged her way with thorns, and walled her in so that she could not clearly see the path she had foolishly chosen. He actually made it hard for her to find the lovers she actively sought.Therefore, behold, I will allure her,Will bring her into the wilderness,And speak comfort to her.I will give her her vineyards from there,And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;She shall sing there,As in the days of her youth,As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
The Bible speaks of wildernesses many times as places of testing, exile, or sojourn. Time in the wilderness was never void of valuable lessons of dependence on God. It is interesting that the Bible used the word “allure” to describe Gomer drawn by God into the wilderness. He had exposed her wretchedness, stripped her of everything, caused her laughter to cease, and taken away his gifts to her. It was in her bereft state that God offered comfort. He spoke kindly to her heart and wooed her back to Himself. He used the Valley of Achor (Valley of Trouble) as a “door of hope” in her life. The Valley of Achor was where Achan was stoned to death after he saw, coveted, and took spoils from Jericho, “accursed things” which God had strictly forbidden. Joshua told Achan to give glory to God by confessing his sin. Hosea 2:5 (Joshua 7:19-26) The Valley of Trouble was a place of death, but also a place of renewal. In the difficult times that God providentially provided for Gomer, she learned to love Him again. She loved Him so much that she forgot the names of her former lovers.
It is not difficult to understand Gomer. We have struggled with unfaithfulness, and found ourselves drawn to idols, believing them to be more substantial than the Lord. Many of us have been to the wilderness too. We come to understand our wretchedness and recall the hymn “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” To be in the wilderness is an opportunity to draw closer to the One we love because He Himself will work that love in us. We shall even sing in the most isolated and barren places in our lives. The promise and transformation in Gomer’s life was a declaration from God
"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.Then you will know the Lord.” Hosea 2:19-20
About the Author: Candy Webb lives in Northern Nevada close to the Sierra mountain range, her favorite wilderness. She raised three children, and she and her husband Bruce have seven grandchildren. Candy teaches fifth and sixth grade at Grace Christian Academy in Minden NV, and paints, hikes, and reads good books in her spare time.
Note: This post originally appeared on October 2, 2013.