Sunday, January 31, 2010

Talk about honest!

There are certain things that you can say to certain people: it all depends on what you need to say and the person to whom you are saying it. There are levels of honesty in our communication with others. Perhaps honesty is not the best word, perhaps the word would be transparency. In my experience the degree of one’s opaqueness is connected to the depth of the relationship. When there is an offense both the strength of the relationship and the desire for it to continue will determine if there is a clearing of the air, if it immediately ends, or if it’s the beginning of a steady drift apart.

We know from the Psalms of David’s relationship with God but I’ve recently discovered what Jeremiah had to say to God and it’s pretty shocking…

“Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are the evil people so happy?” Jeremiah 12:1

It’s a question we’ve all asked but then Jeremiah got personal, really personal -

“Your words are what sustain me. They bring me great joy and are my heart’s delight, for I bear your name O Lord God Almighty. I never joined the people in their merry feasts. (God has told Jeremiah as a witness to the people he was prophesying to that he should never marry and bear children or to go to parties) I sat alone because your hand was on me. I burst with indignation at their sins. Why does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook. It is like a spring that has gone dry.” Jeremiah 15:15- 18

Did he just tell God that He was unfaithful? Not dependable? Unloving toward his servant? And fickle?

He did.

Do you hear his tone here? It is kind of whiny perhaps but honest, vulnerable, and transparent. Jeremiah had questions. He’d been God’s faithful servant since he’d been young and everyone hated him; from the general populace to his peers in the temple to the king on the throne. He was single, unpopular and a social outcast and now he felt that even God had abandoned him when the whole reason he’d been deserted by everyone else was because he’d been doing what God had asked him to do! Why has God left me here to suffer?

If I were writing an inspirational book all the stories would be positive. Everyone would be strong and no matter what the problem it would end “happily ever after.” I would not have included an incident like this – God’s servant despairing of God’s attention and calling Him out on it. It doesn’t go well with the idea that all is well for those who follow God…

Ah, but it does show something much more important; this passage reveals to us the depth of the relationship one can have with Almighty God and that God does not reject his children when they are so transparent with Him. The heart of Jeremiah was not one of defiance but despair and so he turned to God with his questions and God replied. “They will fight against you like an attacking army but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze. They will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and rescue you.” Jeremiah 15:20

How honest can you be with God?
I think the answer is up to us; it’s up to us to decide what we want from our relationship with Him. Do we care enough about its continuation to ask the really hard questions? Those questions that gnaw away at our souls but seem like something you should never say out loud and certainly not to God… surely no good Christian would say that to God…

God’s given us the answer in this story.
Is there anything you need to ask?