God, I Want to Talk to You About Your Judgments!!

Righteous are You, O Jehovah, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?   [Jeremiah 12:1]

I recently had gotten into quite a conversation with two people who were struggling in regard to their faith, particularly because there seems to be the same injustice that Jeremiah cannot understand.  He basically says to God, “Jehovah, God of Covenant, You of course are righteous, but as I look at Your judgments, I want to talk to You about them!!  Why do the wicked seem to get away with their wickedness?  Why do the faithless deceivers seem so happy?”

It is indeed confusing to see events that appear to contradict what God is and what He promises.  These are not minor concerns.  What about a child of two who is sexually abused for the next 15 years, where God just does not seem to answer her prayers?  What about when one’s child is pulled into a religion that does not really know the Jesus of the Bible?  What about when you are in the middle of what seems to be an overwhelming onslaught of Satan’s attacks?  Jehovah, as I look at Your judgments, I want to talk to You about them!!

Thank you, Jeremiah, for bluntly saying what can fairly often be at least in the back of our minds.  How good it is to know that not only are we not weird, but also that we also can fearlessly be so blunt with God.

Jeremiah, you might remember, is known as “the Weeping Prophet” – he watched his people blithely go from bad to worse, and yet they never paid attention to the edge of the precipice that was at their feet, that God would be coming with a very hard discipline against their blatant rebellions.  He complained that his task was just too much for him in 20:9:

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His Name.” But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.

As well, despite how much he cared about his own people, and earnestly wanted them to respond to the Lord’s soon-to-be-withdrawn call to repentance, it was a classic case of “shoot the messenger” in 20:2 and 38:6:

Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of Jehovah.

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah …, letting Jeremiah down by ropes; there was no water in the cistern, but only mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.

Jeremiah was “a prophet,” and yet he was not sitting on a comfortable “authority chair.”  He struggled and just wanted to give up.  He was simply so disheartened at what was happening all around him that it is not hard to imagine how he walked that seeming thin line between faith and non-faith – the same line on which we also sometimes tread.  However, just like him, we also find that we just cannot simply let go of our faith – “His word was in my heart like a burning fire” – , and – just like him – we may feel that we are on a spit being roasted over that “burning fire.”

Indeed our faith can go through a terrible wringer.  But let’s talk about faith for the moment.  We seem to have the idea that faith, especially spiritual faith, is complicated.  Yet actually faith is quite simple.  In fact, a lot of our lives involves faith.  In the Assisted Living residence where I work, at the meal times, the people go to the tables in the dining room.  There is no second thought, they just go with the expectation of being fed – but what is happening is that they are responding to a promise that their meals would be provided.  Should they be asked to describe where in their lives they use faith, this kind of very common example would probably never even cross their minds, yet it is faith nonetheless.

So also when they call the doctor to make an appointment and are told “Next Wednesday at 1 o’clock.”  They hang up and their life is changed: transportation must be arranged, they may bathe beforehand, appropriate clothes are chosen, the kitchen may be asked to prepare their meal a little early – in a variety of ways life is altered simply because a voice on the telephone made a promise.  When using money at a store, when driving and coming to a green light, even the TV guide – all have implied promises which we depend on in faith, all the time.   Each promise calls forth from us the response of faith, but not just faith, also actions that result from that faith.

This is what James speaks of when he says, “… faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. …  I will show you my faith by my works”: choices are made, courses of action are determined, Life – and living – is altered because of a promise.

Often, people look at the side effects of Suhagra 100mg? The administration of Suhagra 100mg can lead to side effects in some men. There are even some who lose their voice by the end of year 2014, Supportive are the LTE networks of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone(and those launched in 2013), iiNet targets to activate 30,000 Wi-Fi hotpots in capital cities, free Wi-Fi service by Victorian government, to three cities is in news, free Wi-Fi in KFC restaurants by Aruba Clear Pass and many more are expected in forthcoming year. Here they are boiled, dried and re-boiled and re-dried to assure sterilization of the roots. However, the main pathology behind this debilitating condition is improper tadalafil 60mg blood flow to the male sexual organ. Spiritual faith is really no different.  God gives us promises and prophesies.  We respond in faith and action.  Often even this can be such a normal part of life, that because there are no bells and whistles, there is no dramatic and profound experience, we question at times whether we have faith.  Sometimes we have to look at how our life has been affected in order to realize that spiritual faith is operating.  How have attitudes, perspectives, feelings, methods, schedules, and many other things in our lives now become different?

Do we react, for instance, by turning to God and talking to Him?  We may even find ourselves arguing and wrestling with Him.  Jacob, on the night before what was to him a terrifying possibility, spent the night wrestling with, in essence, God – and was the worse for wear: his hip was thrown out of joint!  In desperation he refused to let go without a blessing.  The result, though, was that he did get the blessing, and the reunion with his brother was not the terrible ordeal as he expected.

Sometimes as we fight and are so frustrated with God, we think that we have lost our faith.  Yet if we really had lost our faith, then we wouldn’t bother: we would simply dismiss Him and walk away.  After all, why bother trying to convince Him, if He is not going to be part of the picture?  But as we struggle with how He and His promises and prophesies fit into the puzzle, in one sense we are doing exactly what James is describing: we are acting upon what God has said to us, we are trying to understand how it is to apply to what faces us, and we really do want to see Him fit in.

What we are wrestling with is not so much in believing the promise, rather the problem lies in believing the Promiser.  And that is where the pain of the struggle is found.  We grapple with whether God really will make good on what He says He will do and be to us.

Like Jeremiah, we see terrible situations around us.  We see promises that seem wonderfully meant for others, and yet are so empty for us.  We feel as though the door has been slammed in our faces.  Like Jacob, for the time being we may even find something in our lives thrown painfully out of joint.  Quite possibly for Jacob, ever afterwards there always would be limp now – not everything would be back to the way it was, perhaps every step he now took would still have a twinge of pain.  Not that Jacob regretted the ultimate outcome where he and his brother were graciously reunited, but still there was a price that had a lasting effect.

So really, the problem we have in regard to faith is ultimately not so much in what God says, but with God Himself.  Ever since Adam and Eve, we have not been sure that we can trust Him; we really suspect that He does not want the best for us; and even if He did, He is basically helpless against the evil that seems to overwhelm us.

Sometimes I wonder what it was like for the disciples, to see their world, their hopes, even their faith literally collapse in on themselves as they watched their Lord, their beloved Master, the Messiah of their faith, die on the cross.  Perhaps we do understand their anguish at not just merely a death, but the destruction of everything in which they believed, everything for which they hoped, everything on which they counted.  I cannot think of a more terrible pain than that.

Yet what they would come to discover was that in the whipping, in the nail holes, in the actual – not symbolic, but actual – death, in the coldness and emptiness of the tomb, God was accomplishing an extraordinary deed.  Yes, we can see that now, but when we are left with the shock and loss as we stand before the crosses of our lives – those times of confusion and even despair –, it is hard to understand how there could be salvation and even a resurrection in the very process of what we see.

The advantage, however, which we have over the disciples, is how we can now realize that, to our amazement, the cross is not the abandonment of God, but rather it is the most powerful expression of His love that He could ever have given to us.  It is here where we must come to find the validation of His promises and of His commitment to us.  Like Jacob it is to this event that we must cling, crying out that “I will not let You go, unless You bless me!”  God has finally revealed His heart, and it is to this heart that we must hold firmly even when we stand with the disciples bewildered at the collapse of everything that we have held dear.

Perhaps then it is with even greater surprise that we discover today that God responds to us with the answer, “I will not let You go, and – I – will bless you!”  Here in Holy Communion, He binds Himself to us to where He cannot back down nor back out.  He cannot avoid being a literal part of you as you are with Him.  He cannot avoid going with you in your body and in your heart as vividly as this bread and wine now become one with you.  He cannot avoid being part of your life, yes, and even of being part of your struggles with His promises.  He cannot avoid standing with you at the utter devastation of the cross, but also then, as He leads you on to the resurrection with its power and its life.

Being at the cross, wrestling with Jacob, bewildered as Jeremiah, devastated as the disciples, faith can be a terrible puzzle.   But as we leave this Communion today, we are not alone – not at all, never.  As Jesus holds to us, we continue our hold on Him, crying out, “I will not let You go, unless You bless me!” and hear echoing back, “– I –  cannot let you go, and I am blessing you!”

Leave a Reply