I’ve combed through the book of Jeremiah looking for things to learn and grow from. What I found was a man who obeyed God, said what he was supposed to say and was rejected because of it. He was beaten, thrown into a public prison, dumped into a cistern to die, dragged off against his will and called a liar when people didn’t like the messages God gave him. Before he even gave the messages, he knew that the people were going to reject the messages. He even tried to keep quiet at one point, but he said the word of God felt like a fire trapped in his bones until he spoke it.
I can only imagine what he felt. In Lamentations 3:16-19, he described some of it for us. He wrote, “He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, ‘My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!’ The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss” (NLT). Powerful words describing a bitter time.
Even though this period of life was bitter for him, he didn’t become bitter. For me, that’s been one of my goals in life. When times get tough and all hope is lost, find a way to not get bitter through the process. When we have to endure bitter times in our lives, we have a choice. We can dwell on our losses, our disappointments, our failures and our suffering or we can choose to dwell on God’s faithfulness through it all. One choice will make you as bitter as your circumstances and one will give you strength to endure.
Jeremiah chose the latter. In the next few verses he wrote, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” No matter what you’re having to go through, God has been faithful to you and He loves you. Today, concentrate on who He is and what He’s done for you throughout your life instead of your present situation. A smooth life isn’t guaranteed to any of us, but the faithfulness of the Lord has been.
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
It’s often foggy when I drive to work in the mornings. It gets so thick I can hardly see very far in front of me. I know where I’m headed, but the exits and interchanges are difficult to see in the fog. I typically have to drive slower on days like that to make sure I don’t wreck or miss an exit. As the sun comes up, the fog begins to dissipate and my vision becomes clearer.
I think it’s a lot like that for most of us when it comes to God’s plan and vision for our life. We might know where God has us going in this life, but we can’t see very far into the future. When we look down the road of our life, all we see is cloudiness and very few street signs. It’s hard to know which way to go, where to turn or when to brake. Others pass us as if the fog doesn’t exist. Are they being careless or is their vision somehow more clear than our own?
I know personally how difficult it is to not be able to see very far ahead. I know I’m heading in the direction that God told me to go. I don’t want to end up like the Israelites where I’m wandering in the desert for 40 years. I want to know where the Jordan river in my life is and make my way to it. I want to be camped on its banks when God says, “It’s ok to cross it now. I have dammed the river up and you can cross on dry ground.”
There are choices we can make when dealing with the inability to see very far ahead in our lives. The first choice is to be frozen by fear of the unknown and to stay where we are. I’ve always heard people say, “If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.” The longer it takes me to move forward, the longer it will be until we get to where He wants us. What if Abraham had waited around when God said, “Go to the land that I will show you”? What would have happened if he had stayed where he was until God showed him where he wanted to go?
God simply said, “Go.” God can correct our direction and movement, but only if we’re moving. He can’t change our course if we are sitting around. That brings us to our next choice. We can move in the fog and deal with the limited sight distance. I’ve noticed that when I move forward in a fog, I can see a little further than I could from where I was. Each step forward reveals things I had not seen before. I begin to see the signs I couldn’t see before. Moving forward in faith reveals more of God’s plan.
The more time I spend with God, the more I allow His light to shine in my life. If I lift up the Son in all I do, I’ve found that my focus changes from the fog to pleasing Him. The fog is lifted because my faith has grown and my vision improves. I begin to see further down the road than I had. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has plans for us. They are good plans and we need to trust Him one step at a time. He will reveal those plans for us as we move closer to Him and in the direction He is sending us.