Thursday, January 26, 2012
One Minute Devotion: Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This was my mother in law's favorite verse. I have called it finding hope in a hopeless world. I have later come to realize it is what God says loudly when we think He is silent. Contextually this was directed at Judah via Jeremiah regarding a hope and future for a nation whose collective disregard for the Lord resulted in a horrific occupation. God was letting the Israelites know that, despite the misery and suffering they were facing; His goal was not to punish but to pull them back into obedience. However, God's word is timeless. I believe this verse has a contemporary theme that speaks to all of us. Many would misinterpret this as a blank check of blessings from God. That would be a colossal error because this is a verse of hope through struggle, not emanating from evil but God's refining fire. Judah had rebelled against God, forsaken Him, and turned to their own ideologies and agendas. The only way God could bring them back to Himself was to provide a circumstance that would require no other choice but complete repentance and surrender to Him. That event was Israel’s falling to its enemies. However, no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Although Judah's enemies thought they had the power and authority to conquer, in fact that ability was merely an illusion. God used them to provide a communal penance from His people; their success was the result of His ultimate plan and providence. It is hard to wrap our minds around sovereignty. How could God use something bad to finish something undeniably good? It was through Israel's turmoil that the Messiah was foretold, a salvation message that would not only deliver them from their calamity, but provide an avenue for eternity for us all. Does God use trials to refine us today? Absolutely. At this point, most tune out because it seems absurd to believe God, the author of love, would allow His children to suffer anything. It is because of His love that He tries us. If it were not for that process, our faith and relationship with Him would utterly stagnate and growth would be fully stunted. God calls his working within us refining for a purpose. The act of refining is to heat a solid, like gold or copper until it liquefies in order to remove the impurities to create a better product. God's refining process is the same. He takes you to the point where all opposition to His moving is melted away and your submission to His will filters the impurities. The key part of this verse is not the hope and future, but the fact that we are always on God's mind. We are ever-present in His every thought. In those thoughts, He is developing ways to mold us and shape us into the masterpiece he yearns for us to be. Beyond an artist or craftsman, He is forging us from the ground up, from a weak damaged soul into a beautiful new creation constructed by the master's hands. Where we encounter trouble, He sees progress. Where we see trial, He sees revelation. Where we only see the problem at hand, He sees a wondrous future of renewed strength, courage, and triumph. We need to look past the circumstance and see God. When we trust in Him we will find boldness and support that we could never muster alone. God's way leads to completeness. He never leaves our side, even when we think He is silent, He is there, preserving us. Are you willing to face the refining fire? Can you find the vision to see past the calamity and straight into God's will? God bless.