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Doubts About…

August 21, 2010

What could the boring prophet, Jeremiah teach me?  I decided to go through the book, not just to read it and check off my devotions for the day but to try and actually absorb and learn from it.  Admittedly, I had my doubts on the outset. Turns out, Jeremiah taught me quite a lot! 

In a short time, I had filled several pages of a journal with scribbled notes and points to remember.  Then I came to chapter 32 and saw the portion titled, “The Sign of the Field of Hanameel.” I was hopeful that a good old fashioned Bible story was in store for me.

“…and Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison.”

I tried to imagine Jeremiah as a prisoner.  I’m not sure what the court of a prison looked like, but I’m confident that Jeremiah wasn’t getting soft bedding.  I was envisioning Jeremiah in prison when the Word of the Lord came to him.  He was told by God that his uncle’s son, Hanameel would come ask him to buy his field.  Under Jewish law, Jeremiah had the legal right to buy this family field. 

Along came Hanameel and asked Jeremiah to purchase the field.  Every good story needs some conflict, and right on queue up crops a problem.  The field was in an area already occupied by Babylon.  Never mind that little hiccup in the plan; God had given Jeremiah clear direction.  Even though this seemed like a foolish acquisition based on the Babylonian occupation, Jeremiah knew God intended for him to buy the field.  So Jeremiah bought the piece of property and then went on to reassure the Israelites that God had promised they would again possess houses and fields in this land.  In great faith he proclaimed that nothing is too hard for God. 

I sat and reveled in this promise.  Those words, “Nothing is too hard for God,” are so comforting to me.  They are almost like the Christian war cry, My God is powerful! 

But then the Chaldeans advanced on the area where Jeremiah’s newly purchased field was located.  This is where Jeremiah started acting like Laura.  From a moment of tremendous faith to one of misgiving, he began to doubt the wisdom of doing what God had clearly shown him to do.  Apparently Jeremiah believed God could give the land back to them from the Babylonians but not from the Chaldeans.  I ignored the nagging reminder that I behave much too much like Jeremiah.  Without even realizing it, I began to stew, Why did you have him buy the land, God, if you were just going to turn it over to some other warring nation?

Then I came to verse 27, and God asked the rhetorical question, “Is anything to hard for me?”  He recited the very words Jeremiah had so recently stated.  God reassured Jeremiah that eventually Israel would live safely in the land.

We know in our minds that nothing is too hard for God, but often we are only willing to believe this when we can imagine how God is going to work things out.  If we don’t understand His plan, we suddenly become doubters. Sometimes we think God has taken care of everyone but us.  We doubt God’s plan and why He would allow some people to be born with handicaps, others to be single, some to have ill health, and others to struggle financially.  God has not changed.  Nothing is too hard for Him. 

Because I am limited by my human reasoning, I am not capable of understanding God’s means for accomplishing His plan.  My human inability to comprehend does not mean that God isn’t capable.  When I have started on a path of obedience to God, my job is to trust Him to bring His will to pass. 

Still I have times of uncertainty.  When I start to beat myself up for having doubts about how God will take care of me, I take comfort in realizing that the great – not the boring, but the truly great prophet – Jeremiah also had a moment of doubt.  God was faithful in spite of Jeremiah’s doubt, and God will be faithful to me too.

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