Devotionals by Dr. James MacDonald

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The Lion

“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up”  (Hosea 6:1, ESV).

Hosea 6:1 includes an intriguing phrase: God “has torn us, that he may heal us.” The word torn describes how a predator grabs its prey, shreds the animal with its sharp teeth, and consumes it. It’s the same word Jacob used when his malevolent sons brought back Joseph’s coat of many colors, shredded and dipped in blood. “A fierce animal has devoured him,” Jacob said. “Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces” (Genesis 37:33). Torn is a severe word—and it’s rather unsettling to read that God tears us.

Who “has torn us”? God! Make no mistake. God is behind the hurt in your life. When your life feels torn in two, God has not abandoned you. He doesn’t callously move away from you; He compassionately moves toward you.

Why? Why does God approve pain’s intrusion into your life? Like an electron magnet, God draws your heart back to His. Whatever the particular point of pain, the circumstance you most want to change, the unwanted source of shock and sadness that you beg God to reverse or resolve—God has a purpose for that pain. And the pain will not subside until its purpose has been completed in you. What’s more, when God has finished His work in that part of your life, He’ll move on to His next project in you. God’s love is not a pampering love; it’s a perfecting love. Through pain, God calls you back, further, and deeper into Him.

The closing verses of Hosea 5 paint a picture of God’s ravaging work: “For I will be like a lion. . . . I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue . . . until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:14–15). Like a lion, God uses those painful circumstances in our lives and waits until we acknowledge and seek Him. By faith, can you see the Great Lion in your life? Can you see past the struggling marriage, difficult work environment, stubborn child, or physical sickness to the Lion by your side?

Pain is never the end. We move through pain to purpose. “He has torn us, that he may heal us.” We want the healing without the tearing, and if that were possible, God would want that for us too. God wants to heal our finances, our failures, and our families, and He tears us to heal us. “He has struck us down, and he will bind us up.” Don’t misunderstand God or judge Him harshly. He is the Lion that tears—so that he may heal. He strikes us down—so that He can bind us up. God always uses pain to bring us to a better place. Surgeons don’t lament the pain of a procedure. They wound to heal, rebreaking a bone to set it or cutting through tissue to remove a tumor. In the same way, God inflicts precise pain to draw our hearts closer to Him.

God’s role in our suffering is always for our good. Even Job could attest, “Despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal” (Job 5:17–18). God loves you so much that He would rather see you anywhere else than living in rebellion against Him. God would rather see you in a hospital bed or bankrupt, broken, or hurting than separated from Him.

Will you let life’s pain bring you to God’s purpose? Will the Lion have to tear that silly, self-indulgent, sordid something out of your life? Or will you move quickly through the pain to His purpose for you?


  • Describe the pain in your life right now.
  • What are some purposes you can already see in that pain?

Lord God, help me to see more clearly who You are. You are a mighty Lion, willing to tear me—because You love me and want what’s best for me. Help me to look past the pain in my life to Your purpose for it. Use the pain to draw me closer to You and to make me more like Your Son, Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in whose name I pray, amen.

For more from Dr. James MacDonald please visit Walk in the Word on


All of us have areas of our life that we’d like to change. Maybe it’s your marriage, your business, or your relationship with God. But if we all want to change, why is it so hard? You see, it’s not about yelling louder, trying harder, or being filled with condemnation. It’s all about getting the right mindset, a Godly mindset. And when that happens, long-lasting transformation follows! 
Friend, change is not dependent on trying harder. Real change comes when you choose to embrace a Godly mindset, because the way you think affects everything. I want to invite you to request the resources below so that you may experience the victory of lasting change in your life, beginning today.   
—James MacDonald 

Request this offer with your gift of any amount to the ministry of Walk in the Word.

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About Walk in the Word

Walk in the Word...Igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth.

About Dr. James MacDonald

James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and both are from Ontario, Canada. He is the father of three grown children, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and grandfather to five amazing grandsons. James has committed his life and ministry to the unapologetic proclamation of God’s Word. In 1988, along with a small group of ministry partners, James and Kathy planted Harvest Bible Chapel ( which now has more than 13,000 people meeting at seven locations across Chicagoland each weekend.

Walk in the Word, a Bible-teaching television and radio broadcast ministry (, was established in 1997. The radio program reaches more than three million people daily, and the television audience extends around the world. In 2002, through James’ leadership and by God’s grace, the church-planting ministry Harvest Bible Fellowship ( was founded and has established more than 100 churches across North America and around the world. James’ vision is for God to use Harvest Bible Fellowship to plant 1,000 churches by 2020.

James’ extensive ministry also includes a training center for pastors, a year-round camp, a center for biblical counseling, a disaster-recovery organization, and a Christian school—all used to reach more people with the life-changing message of the gospel.

James is the author of several books including Vertical Church, Authentic, Lord Change My Attitude, When Life is Hard, Always True, Come Home, and most recently, Act Like Men.

Find out more about James and his ministries at:
@pastorjamesmacdonald on Instagram
@jamesmacdonald on Twitter
James MacDonald - Walk in the Word on Facebook

Contact Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald

Mailing Address 
Walk in the Word
P.O. Box 5368
Elgin, IL 60121