The Prophet Jeremiah was in a bad spot. He was confined by the royal guard in Jerusalem because of his prophecies. Babylon was about to destroy the country, the great Temple in Jerusalem, and carry the people into captivity. In the midst of all this calamity, Jeremiah’s uncle came, wanting him to buy a field in his home town of Anathoth. What possible reason would Jeremiah want to do this in such a dark time? Yet God instructed him to buy it. God said, “Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.'” (32:14-15) In the midst of the darkest hour there was hope. It would take more than 70 years for the promise to be fulfilled, but it was fulfilled. Our God is a God of hope, regardless of the darkness that presently surrounds us. He can be trusted to bring us through.
We do a great deal in our lives to provide for comfort. Our homes, our cars, our medical care, our entertainment, are all aimed at maintaining our comfort and well being. All this is fine as long as it is within our means, and doesn’t cause us prideful stress in trying to obtain things that we really don’t need. But in our relationship with our Lord, comfort is not His primary concern for us. There is certainly nothing especially holy about poverty or being in want. Scripture tells us that the Lord desires that our needs be met, and that, often in abundance, but it is never to be the central issue of life. The Lord is seeking people whose hearts are willing, and are open to Him. He desires our availability, and our trust. There is no guarantee in this that we will have everything that we want, but we will have all that we need for our best good.
What does it mean to trust, especially to trust God? We say it all the time, but we usually have a “back up” plan in case God doesn’t come through the way we think He should. This is especially true in our affluent world. We solve many of our problems with money. We really don’t know what it means to have to pray for our next meal, as some Christian workers have had to do. Or pray for safety from hostile peoples. Truly trusting God is to be out on a limb with no way back. If God doesn’t help, we are lost. It is not a question that we have to be in poverty or danger to learn to trust God. Rather, we need to see Him as our single source of provision, strength, and hope in all situations of life. God is trustworthy. He has proven it time and again.
Psalm 73 presents the age old question, why do the good suffer, and the bad seem to have an easy life. “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man.” While the psalmist writes, “All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.” It is a question we will not fully understand on this side of God’s Kingdom, but that is just the point – God’s Kingdom. The psalmist continues, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Jesus said of such people, “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”(Matthew 6:2,5,&16) The Psalmist end with a great affirmation of faith, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” No, we will not fully understand all that happens in this life, but our trust is in the One who alone will make all things new.
Everyone makes projections. What will be the state of the economy this time next year? Will the stock market go up or down? When will this or that leader be toppled? On a personal note, this is what I will be doing next week, next month. We say, this is what will be happening in the foreseeable future. The problem, as we all know, is that the future is not foreseeable. Oh, we do make plans, schedule, appointments, and projections, but we really do not know what is ahead, as many in the recent and tragic natural disasters learned. James teaches us to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”(4:15) We make our plans, but above all we know that we are in the Lord’s hands. He is the only One who know our future. In the midst of great trouble the Lord said to His people, “I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Our Father can be trusted with our future. We can rest in Him.
Be careful what you ask for. You might get it. We all have our wants, but our wants are not always for our good. The history of the Exodus is very instructive in many ways, but primarily the visible display of God actions on behalf of His people. The historical Psalm 106 tells us that “They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel.”(vs.13f) They grumbled. They wanted their own way. They got tired of the manna God was giving them and wanted meat, and the psalmist tells us that, “In the desert they gave in to their craving; … So He gave them what they asked for, ….” but this was followed by a wasting disease that came upon them. They certainly got more than they bargained for, because they were unwilling to trust the God they had seen act for them in so many ways, and they failed to trust God enough to wait for His counsel. It is not wrong to want things, and God allows us to bring all of our need and our desires before Him, but we do so trusting that, in the right time and in the right way, God will give us His very best.
Some years ago I had the opportunity to have lunch at the Army Navy Club in Washington. The hall leading to the dining room was lined with pictures of Generals and Admirals. I made the comments at the time that not one of them had a smile on their faces. For some reason I am sensitive to this. I also look at the faces of fashion models, male and female. In most cases they have very sullen expressions. The same could probably be said about pictures of top corporate executives. What is it about power, wealth, fashion, and position that brings out such dark appearances? By contrast, the Lord was always speaking to people about trust, not being anxious or worried, putting aside pride, being humble, and this will show on a face that is at peace. I don’t know how far one can push such an analysis, but the face does reflect something that is in the heart. You are a child of God because of Jesus Christ. Knowing His strength, His blessing, His grace, and His peace can’t help but reflect on your face.
A quip in the morning paper says that, “progress is man’s attempt to complicate simplicity.” Our lives do become complicated, and with the complications worries mount. “What about this? What if that happens? Will I get this done on time?” There is no easy answer to our complications, but our Lord does want to help ease our burdens. Is. 30:15 says, “in quietness and trust is your strength.” Unfortunately, for the people to whom Isaiah wrote, he immediately had to followed this by saying, “but you would have none of it.” Let that not be our response. Our Lord continually invites us to quiet our soul by trusting completely in Him. Let’s not borrow trouble ahead, or add more complications to life. Do what is needed for today, and leave the rest in the Lord’s hands.
As you probably know, I use Comcast for my internet service. The home page on Comcast, like most internet services, has a whole array of news, entertainment, and other items of supposed interest. I say, supposed interest because most of it is fluff, useless bits of things of little importance that we really didn’t need to know. What star did this. Who won that contest. New ways to guaranteed wealth. Yes, there is some legitimate news, too, but facts often conflict. Oh well, such is most of what we are fed in the media today. I am reminded of Orwell’s book 1984. The population was kept under control by feeding them a continuing supply of titillating junk. One of the gifts of God’s Spirit in I Corinthians 12 is the gift of distinguishing between spirits, or discernment. That is a vital gift for us today, not only for the general media, but for the “spiritual truths” that are frequently presented to us. We are called to seek God’s wisdom and discernment in all that comes to us, stay firmly rooted in the Scriptures, and be at peace in our trust of the Lord.
Ah! The unforeseen. Where did the format for yesterday’s Good Morning come from? It was not intentional. It is a total mystery of this digital age. None of the ones before it went that way, and hopefully this one will not. I know a number of highly skilled technical people, and none of them has all the answers. Such is the nature of our complex life. But life, in general, is never completely predictable. We make plans, and often carry them through, but we have also seen those plans canceled for a totally different and unexpected direction. Life, and especially our fallen human life, is unpredictable. But it is just here that our Lord tells us repeatedly to trust Him, to not be afraid, to know that He loves us deeply, that He cares about even the smallest parts of our lives, and to take one day at a time. My little technical glitch is of no consequence, but it was a useful lesson. We are reminded that regardless of how unforeseen many events of life are, they are never outside of our Lord’s care. He can be trusted for each day.