From what little I know of the prophet Jeremiah, he seems to be a mixed bag. He gives some of the choicest complaints ever recorded in the Bible. The book of Lamentations is, after all, a very likely autobiography of Jeremiah. Yet, he is also the one who gives the most hope; for from his lips came these beautiful words from which we draw much comfort,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

And in many ways, Jeremiah becomes an accurate representation of what we are like when trouble hits. You see, when times get rough, the road ahead is unclear and you seem to be going around in circles, not making any headway, it feels like

“He took me by the hand and walked me
into pitch-black darkness.
Yes, he’s given me the back of his hand
over and over and over again.” Lamentations 3:2-3 [MSG]

You can’t tell your right hand from your left. You can’t even tell where your hands are in the dark. And when you stumble and fall, it feels like God is hitting you with the back of His hand every time you make a mistake. Then to add insult to injury,

“He turned me into a scarecrow
of skin and bones, then broke the bones.
He hemmed me in, ganged up on me,
poured on the trouble and hard times.
He locked me up in deep darkness,
like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.” Jeremiah 3:4-6 [MSG]

And no matter what the doctors do, no matter how you try and play your cards, no matter how qualified a financial adviser you hire; no investments seem to work, no medication seems to work, no advice seem to work, even your prayers don’t get answered, and it seems like

“He shuts me in so I’ll never get out,
manacles my hands, shackles my feet.
Even when I cry out and plead for help,
he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.
He sets up blockades with quarried limestone.
He’s got me cornered.” Jeremiah 3:7-9 [MSG]

But it is right at this moment that we should stop and check the facts. We think that God is out to get us, but what is the truth? The truth is, He is with us. He must be, that is why we think He is doing all those things to us. If He was absent, then we would be blaming someone else, wouldn’t we?

Now, if God is with us, even in our darkest moments, then this saying is true.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 3:16

So here is the second fact, our God has never left us nor forsaken us.

Now, if this promise is true, then the words of Jesus must also be true.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

But wait; hang on; if God so loved the world, if God gave His only begotten Son so that I should not perish but have everlasting life, if Jesus did not come to condemn but to save me, then why does it feel like

“He’s a prowling bear tracking me down,
a lion in hiding ready to pounce.
He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces.
When he finished, there was nothing left of me.
He took out his bow and arrows
and used me for target practice.” Lamentations 3:10-12 [MSG]

Why is it that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, it feels like

“He shot me in the stomach
with arrows from his quiver.
Everyone took me for a joke,
made me the butt of their mocking ballads.
He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat,
bloated me with vile drinks.” Lamentations 3:13-15 [MSG]
And just for good measure,

“He ground my face into the gravel.
He pounded me into the mud.
I gave up on life altogether.
I’ve forgotten what the good life is like.
I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished.
God is a lost cause.”” Lamentations 3:16-18 [MSG]

Well, beloved, there was a scene in a movie once, where a mother was trying to get a doctor to certify that her son had a history of asthma, bronchitis, flat foot, athletes’ foot, and a whole host of other ailments, just so that he could get out of serving in the army. And the doctor’s response to the mother was, ‘are you sure that your son is still alive’.

And in many ways, that is true for us too, isn’t it? If we have really been walked into the darkness, turned into a scarecrow, hemmed in, locked up, hunted down, shot with arrows and pounded into the ground by God, how is it that we are still alive?

Think about it, this is the revelation that Job, in the midst of all his troubles and affliction, received;

“In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10 [AMP]

And indeed, “The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.” Isaiah 40:7 [AMPC]

If God really hated you that much, all He needed to do was breath upon you and you will fade. Why bother going through all that trouble just to smite you?

Yet, breathe upon you God did. But when He did, this was what happened.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

He did not take away your life, He gave you life.

Yes, your problems are real. Yes, your pain is real. But they did not come from God. It would make neither logical nor economic sense for God to expend so much of His energies on smiting you. And especially not when He Himself has said,

“I’ve been carrying you on my back
from the day you were born,
And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.
I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.
I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,
carrying you on my back, saving you.” Isaiah 46:3-4 [MSG]

So is there someone smiting you? Yes, but it is not God. He has not and never will let you down. So who then is smiting you? The same one who was smiting Job. And remember what happened to Job?

“Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”” Job 1:13-19 [ESV]

Was it really the fire of God from Heaven that destroyed Job? Of course not, we know better, because we know that just before this,

“…the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:12 [ESV]

Satan challenged God. Satan wanted to show God up. Satan wanted to make God look bad. And that was why Satan was to unrelenting and thorough in his attack on Job, because Satan believed that,

“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Job 1:9-11 [ESV]

Beloved, in order to understand our Father, we need to pay attention to the way He works. When God smites, like He did with Sodom and Gomorrah, God does it in one stroke. But when Satan smites, He does it in segments, in many areas, unrelenting and unceasing. Satan’s whole idea is to wear you down, because he cannot destroy you. God doesn’t allow it. So if you see your life fall apart piece by piece, you know it’s not our Father, but the work of you-know-who.

What then should we do when such things happen to us?

“My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 [NASB]

Wait for God. But don’t wait and complain; wait in silence, wait in peace, wait in complete calmness knowing that our Father will save. For indeed,

“My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.” Lamentations 3:20-22

We only need to take a good look at our situation and wonder why we are not worse of. For if we think that we have been thoroughly and comprehensively attacked, why are we even living to tell the tale? Should we not be in a fate worse than what we are in right now? And then you will see that not only was our Father not smiting you, our Father’s mercies have kept you from being consumed by your circumstance. So

“It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26
“For the Lord will not cast off forever.
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.” Lamentations 3:31-33

Beloved, when you turn around and see our Father right there with you in the midst of your troubles; when you see the outstretched arm of Jesus reaching for you in the midst of your darkest pit; They are there not because They put you there. They are there because our Father has been carrying you on His back all the days of your life. Through thick and thin, hell or high water, our Father promised,

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3

So when trials come, wait quietly for our Father’s deliverance. Let your heart be filled with the peace that comes from the confident hope that our Father is always carrying you on His back. For our Father will never let you down.

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