Jeremiah 12 has our prophet wanting to ask God a question. There’s nothing wrong with that. God is very willing to help us learn and understand. But there is a right way to do it, and Jeremiah shows us how. “Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you”. He recognizes and submits to God’s authority and righteousness. He doesn’t question or accuse God – but puts God where He belongs as Master and Creator. We have to begin in our desire to question from a place of submission. Too often we come at questioning in an accusatory way or with an unwillingness to listen and accept God’s answers.
The question is a good one. “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive”? I imagine that’s a question all of us want to know the answer for. In Jeremiah’s case, he knew that his life was focused on walking in obedience and living righteously. Those around him in Judah and Jerusalem were evil and wicked, yet they seemed to prosper. These evil people were threatening his very life, wanting to get rid of the voice of truth that Jeremiah was bringing. Jeremiah wants to understand why. That’s a question we all seem to ask a lot – why?
God answers Jeremiah’s question with a few questions of His own. “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan”? He doesn’t directly answer him, but rather gives him something that was powerful and profound. He encourages Jeremiah to see his present challenges and the apparent unfairness of the situation as preparation for greater things that are to come. Jeremiah is being trained to truly trust God and draw on His strength because more difficult days are ahead. God always has a plan. We often can’t see it through of very limited set of eyes and perspective.
God often asks us to do things that seem difficult. That was definitely going on in Jeremiah’s life with people who disliked his prophecy and wanted him dead. He knew he was doing God’s work, but the bad guys seemed to have the upper hand. The lesson here may be that we have to learn to trust God in all things when we are walking on His path for our life. We can get caught up in the circumstances around us and get derailed from our mission. The reality is we will never be able to run with horses on our own. We have to learn to let God work in us and through us. He will provide a way. Our job is to trust and obey!