“They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them. . . Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Jeremiah 33:38; 33:11)
Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. He had the unenviable task of chronicling the fall of Jerusalem and marching with the exiles into Babylonian captivity. Even before it happened, he warned the people of what was coming and chastised them for their apostasy and pride. For his reward he was thrown into a cistern and left to die. That’s no way to treat a prophet!
No one wants to hear bad news. Particularly if it reflects on our character or judgement. So, we ignore it and focus on the positive. But, in the dark of the night, those memories haunt us: “From on high he sent fire; it went deep into my bones; he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; he has left me stunned, faint all day long.” (Lamentations 1:13)
But God does not remain silent. One of the most encouraging verses in the Bible is found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Fire not only destroys, it purifies.
On a long flight back from Europe my husband closed his eyes and reviewed pivotal events in his life. Although there many points of suffering and pain, he was reminded that the bad did not overcome the good, and his heart was filled with praise. He came to the end of the journey with hope rather than disappointment. Some see suffering and pain as an indictment against God: either he is powerless to do anything about it, or he enjoys seeing people suffer. Neither is true. Pain sharpens our focus and either draws us closer to God or pushes us away. For those who trust him in the darkness, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Or as Job said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)
“LORD, light our darkness and assure us that we are not alone. Give us strength to endure hurts, but remind us of your goodness as well. We remember that you came to participate in our suffering.” Amen
Mindi Oaten’s painting “God of Faithfulness” is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.