This!... That's how it actually finishes. "In days to come, you will understand this". This phrase just blew me away in my reading of the book of Jeremiah, and I honestly haven't really been able to move past it. After all, how many times do we ask God - WHY??
I have found truth in the statement that "Disappointment comes from unmet expectations", and it has been a very helpful way for me to process frustration, anger, and sorrow. Know too that many unmet expectations begin as "stealth assumptions"; it is a critical perspective to understand some of our disappointments in life. One of the great applications of this principal can be applied to that question that we so want to ask God - WHY? Sometimes these why questions come from a place of utter brokenness, often in times of intimate and untimely loss. We had an expectation, and it was not met. We are left heartbroken. Sometimes these why questions are in response to our awareness of how good we've got it in a season of life. We had expectations, but God far exceed them, and we are left to wonder.
And yet when it comes to the why questions, we often only see a very small and, if we're honest, fairly selfish perspective when it comes to what God is doing. The book of Jeremiah has been a fascinating read for me of late. I always grew up with people saying he was the "weeping prophet". I had no desire to really read it, and boy have I missed out. I'm not even through it, and it's taken me 7 weeks just to get to chapter 32. It is SO culturally relevant today, and this particular passage just stopped me in my tracks, and here's just one or two reasons why.
Chapter 30 begins with a description of what it means to be "by nature sinful". We live with a wound that cannot be healed. A shame that cannot be covered. That is who we are by nature, and God is well aware of it. Our sin has produced it. And then Mercy is shown to us, and God himself provides the healing. And then Grace on top of Mercy is shown to us when he calls us back to him and calls us his people. The text even hints at Jesus, the Leader coming from among us and being close to God. Why? "So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’ - Jeremiah 30:22
It is this backdrop that serves the passage that we wanted to share with you this month. While it starts with the idea of God's "fierce anger", we're reminded that anger is not necessarily sinful; it can also mean "intense focus". A synonym for anger is "Passion", and while we don't want to overlook God's righteous hatred of sin (which is a large part of the book), passion may be a better translation within the context. . "The intense passion of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart." And what is that passion and purpose? That you and I would be his own and that he would be what he set out to be - our Good and Perfect Father.
A friend of mine shared with me that he recently found out that the death of his teenage daughter many years ago was a significant motivating factor in the life of a young high school student who was inspired to become a teacher to help kids through hard times. Decades after this happened, my friend gets a glimpse of how God used a devastating disappointment to inspire his daughter’s classmate to shine his light to many young teenagers for years to come. At 76, my friend could only marvel at the good that could come out of his family's heartbreaking loss. "In days to come you will understand... this".
We all ask God why. We want to know the reason for our pain, and we want to know now. Your loving father knows the pain; he suffered it all, far more than we can know. And yet he walks with us through the pain, he walks with us through the seasons of wonder, he walks with us through the seasons of uncertainty. While we can't know all of the details and connections to our circumstances, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. For all of us who ask God "WHY!?" we hear him say very simply that to be his people, is to be what we were made for. To be his people is to be fully human. The overarching reason behind all of the stories and circumstances comes back to God's fierce passion that we would "be his people and that he would be our God" He will use every joy and hurt to accomplish this eternal reality. I pray that in days to come, we will understand this, especially when life in this world hurts the most!