Finding God in the Storm – Part 2
Jeremiah now turns in prayer from God’s character to his mighty acts of the past. Again, it might seem odd to tell God what he already knows, but think of a fan meeting their sporting hero as you read these words, and their praisefulness will be clear:
You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. You gave them this land you had sworn to give to their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey. (vv. 21-22)
What Jeremiah admires about God is not just his power, but the kindness and faithfulness with which he wields it. The time Jeremiah has spent focusing on God in his prayer has helped him to see the present situation through God’s eyes. No punishment can be too severe for a people that abuse God’s love in the way Israel did:
They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster upon them. See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city! By means of the sword, famine and plague, the city is being given into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see.
But this is exactly the problem! What on earth does God mean by holding out hope, now of all times?
Yet, Sovereign LORD, you say to me Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed , while the city is being given into the hands of the Babylonians! (vv. 23-25)
I love the delicacy of Jeremiah’s complaint here. The time he has spent in praise has filled him not only with appreciation of God’s power and justice, but also of his goodness and his longing to make us whole, and so Jeremiah never for a moment suspects God of trickery, or injustice, or cynicism. He just wants to understand how God can be God in this situation. How he can be true to his own justice and true to his own kindness. For God’s wonderful reply, I leave you to read the rest of the chapter.
Prayer is about reestablishing relationship. This is me, here I am. This is you, my powerful, wise and loving God. I am in trouble. I don t understand what is happening. But I know you well enough to trust you completely. Just show me how you are God in this situation and God of this situation, and that will be enough. As for me, the nearness of God is my good (Ps. 73:28).
A final thought: why not consider doing what Jeremiah and the Psalmists did, and sharing your prayer with others once God has answered it, so that your personal journey from perplexity to praise can shine a light on God’s splendour and draw his people to sing his praises together.
Andrew Shead is Head of Moore College’s Department of Old Testament and Hebrew and lectures in Hebrew and Old Testament.
To celebrate the upcoming Moore College Sunday on August 3rd we are sharing some resources on prayer to be a helpful ministry resource for you in your spiritual life. How can Moore be praying for you? Let us know at: http://mcs.moore.edu.au.