Like Jeremiah, I’m sure we’ve all had those burning questions; that while we can ask our pastors or leaders, we want to ultimately hear from God too.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Asaph asked the same question in Psalm 73. Hopefully without pride, Jeremiah understood that he was righteous and most of those that were in Judah and Jerusalem were wicked. And yet, they were prospering while Jeremiah seemed to be suffering a lot. How many of you have found yourselves in a similar position; when we see people who we have deemed to be evil or lack compassion and yet they continue to prosper before our very eyes?
Jeremiah proceeded to boldly contrast his life with the life of the wicked – perhaps those who threatened him (Jer. 11:18-19). He knew that his life and heart were tested before God in a way that their lives did not seem to be. In the previous chapter, he felt like he was a sheep for the slaughter (Jer. 11:19). He prayed that the wicked would now be put in that same place. He went on to tell God that because He did not answer the wicked with judgement, it brought mourning to the land.
God’s resolution to Jeremiah’s question? Without directly answering, God encouraged Jeremiah to regard his present challenge as a preparation for greater challenges to come (Jer 12:5). By analogy, Jeremiah could expect to run against horses in the future. He needed to learn to trust God and to draw on His strength in his present challenge and put on the armor of God. The greater challenges that came later was evident when Jeremiah spent a night in the stocks (Jer. 20:1-3), confinement in a cistern (Jer.38:6), and imprisonment in the court of the guard (Jer. 28:13).
While we may ask God questions or have doubts about his judgement, will we take and accept the resolve that has already been given? Jeremiah’s story can embolden us to bring our complaints and pain to God. In looking up to our loving God, we will find a higher perspective and renewed hope; for he is always with us (Rom. 8:31-39), he knows our pain intimately (Heb. 4:14-16), and he can redeem our efforts for his glory (Rom. 8:28). Like Jeremiah, we can find success in faithfulness to God and his words (Gal. 1: 6-10).