Another New Year
January – the first month of a brand new year – a time to begin again! Perhaps you have placed a new calendar on the wall, made one or more resolutions, or decided on one word to focus on throughout the year. For me, however, this new year seems to have taken off before I was ready. Just entering the second week of the new year, I have already attended two funerals and am facing another one the end of this week. I am already circling dates on the calendar for new, unplanned commitments. If I were to choose one word or phrase to guide my focus this year, perhaps it should be “survive” or “hang in there!”
But then I read the following verse: “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5). God had called Jeremiah to prophesy judgment on the people of Judah because of their idolatry, disobedience, and unfaithfulness to the covenant. There was much opposition to Jeremiah’s message and even his life was threatened (see Jeremiah 11). Jeremiah questioned God: “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1b). He then pleaded with God: “But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter” (Jeremiah 12:3).
God’s reply to Jeremiah was in the form of two questions.
- If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?
- And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?
In these questions, God explained that the obstacles Jeremiah faced at home were actually small compared to what He could expect when he faced the kings of Judah and Babylon (the horses). Likewise, the opposition Jeremiah faced at home (land of peace), was minor compared to the turmoil he would face in the floodplain of the Jordan. It’s as if God were asking: “If you are weary now, what will you do then?”
No matter how hard I try to put my best foot forward, life happens and I grow weary. How will I respond when things do not go as planned, when difficulties come? What will I do when I’m misunderstood, when I face opposition? In spite of the turmoil Jeremiah faced, he did two things.
- He turned to God, even when he didn’t understand His ways.
- He remained faithful to God in spite of the opposition and turmoil he faced.
That is what I want to do, too. I want to be faithful to God and His Word. Like Jeremiah, I know that God knows me and sees me. I may not always understand but I know Him. And I also know, through my own experience, that nothing can ever separate me from Him. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-29). He knows me. He sees me. He loves me. I pray this year that I will grow more and more faithful to Him.