I’m sure there have been times when you have been in a dark spot in life and you wonder when or how it will end. Nothing seems to go right, everything seems stressed, all of your hard work just seems to get you further into trouble instead of out of trouble; the thought may even cross your mind that you have somehow been cursed (by God or a vindictive person).
As we have seen throughout our study of Jeremiah so far, there are definitely times when God uses circumstances and other people to discipline his children. The author of Hebrews writes: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” Like any good, loving Father, God reaches out to correct us from time-to-time. Unfortunately, I have noticed that adults take correction and discipline much worse than children do. It’s almost like we reach an age when we think we are above correction, that it is somehow below us to be disciplined.
There is a very strong Biblical teaching on discipline that extends all through scripture. In fact as you read through the Bible, it becomes clear that if were to be SELF-disciplined (as Paul writes about in 2 Timothy 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 9:24 (among others) then the need for God to discipline us would decrease dramatically.
Whether we are in a place where God is disciplining us or simply in a spot of difficulty in life, it can feel like there is no end in sight. Certainly the people of Israel and Judah must have felt that way. Exiled, definitely under discipline by God, struggling to find food, a safe shelter to live in and, above all, loosing the place they called home. When would it end?
Essentially Jeremiah 30-31 is a declaration of when it would end, how it would end and what God would do after it had ended. It is a declaration of the good things that God would bring upon the nation after the time of discipline was over.
We are promised similar things in 1 Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 22. The challenge for us, and for Israel in the time we are reading about, is to look forward to those promises and hold fast to them even in shadow of the current circumstances, disappointments and discipline. Always in scripture, challenge and discipline are painted in the light of the promised outcome.
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
That seems like a good place to end for today.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Jeremiah 32-34