Are We Afraid to Be Honest With God? How Honest?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived! You are stronger than I am, and you have overpowered me. Everyone makes fun of me; they laugh at me all day long. Jeremiah 20:7 (TEV)
It’s been one of those years when things that aren’t supposed to happen do happen. When I’ve had to help more people pick up the broken pieces of their life, and plead with God to put them back together.
When I’ve seen other friends, turn their back on God, and choose their way to go, encouraged by those around them. When those entrusted with responsibility become Machiavellian in the work, and then justify it. I am not just talking about the secular world, I see it in the church as well.
It is almost enough for me to change from being cynical to being a pessimist. It is enough for me to despair, and even go through something akin to depression.
But it is there, almost consumed by darkness, that I remember the brutal honesty of Jeremiah. His ability to speak honestly with God, even to admit he was ticked at God and felt betrayed by Him, even deceived by Him.
To many people I hear today, acting as if life is perfect as if there is no brokenness as if everyone can achieve everything they want to, simply by only speaking positively. If life was such, why would they need to be encouraged to adjust their attitude, to only speak positively as if the challenges of life were not there?
Jeremiah is speaking positively when he rails against God when the prophet admits he is tired when he admits that he doesn’t like the suffering, the pain, the life he has to live. He doesn’t hide this stuff, bury it deeply, ignore it and cover it with nice notes of encouragement.
He wrestles with God, like a true son of Jacob; the man renamed Israel
I was blessed to work with a pastor named Robert Schuller a few times. Let me rephrase, I didn’t work alongside him, but in a series of courses, he taught me a few things about preaching, along with his trusted associates. He’s known for a positive message, perhaps along with Norman Vincent Peale to be one of the father’s of positive thinking, at least in the Christian realm. One of the bits of confusion is the allegation that he was a name-it, claim-it type guy. Not so much. The stories he would tell of people’s encounters with God’s grace always included the challenge God would get them through, the scars that God would use to bless them and others, the pains that resulted in gains.
An attitude that didn’t dismiss the brokenness, but freely admitted it, but also entrusted one’s self to God. Something that can only be done when we are as honest as Jeremiah was, as we admit out frailty, our pain, our honest feelings, and let our Heavenly Father comfort us. It is when we are honest, we see how overwhelming His mercy is, how compassionate His love is, as it reaches out and begins to heal us.
I have to admit, I don’t like what God somehow allows. I tell Him that, sometimes as bluntly as Jeremiah.
but then, eventually, my tantrum subsiding, I realize what Jeremiah does, just a couple of verses later…
9 But when I say, “I will forget the LORD and no longer speak in his name,” then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. Jeremiah 20:9 (TEV)
His message of mercy, His message of love, is that deep.
I can’t shut it even… even when I feel bruised and broken, or when I am tired of trying to help those who are.
for I know His presence, I know His mercy, and I trust in the compassion of our Father, who sent Jesus to die, to make life just and right…. and a blessing.
Cry our, Lord, have mercy! You will see that He does… in more ways than we can count.