"How could I give you up...?" (Hosea 11:8).
James Dobson wrote an interesting book, Love Must Be Tough. God has to be tough at times, too, with His stiff-necked and stubborn people, which includes us all. But how our hearts melt when we read, "My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred" (Hosea 11:8b). We forget that our Father has feelings, too. Humans give up on each other when it seems hopeless, but God goes on loving and giving and forgiving.
Years ago one of our sons had been giving us trouble. One day he asked our forgiveness. To quote verse 8, my heart was overwhelmed. We both wept. How could I not free him, for that is really the essence of forgiveness. In freeing him I freed myself, too. "I delight in mercy," says our God of the Old Testament. I certainly delighted in telling this precious son about a God "who removes guilt and pardons sin ... Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency..." (Micah 7:18). Thank God that He chooses to grant us mercy instead of the full measure of justice. He says to us all, "How could I give you up?" Three weeks later this young man was dead. Little did we both know at the time that his final gift to me was that conversation.
"Oh, prodigal, you may be wandering on the dark mountains of sin, but God wants you to come home! The devil has been telling you lies about God; you think He will not receive you back. I tell you He will welcome you this minute if you will come. Say 'I will arise, and go to my Father.' There is not one whom Jesus has not sought far longer than that father. There has not been a day since you left Him but that He has followed you. I do not care what the past has been, or how black your life, He will receive you back. Arise, then, O backslider, and come home once more to your Father's house" (D. L. Moody).