Patient Waiting

In the constantly evolving science of a global pandemic, we have been through several iterations of do this/do thats. From ‘bleach your groceries‘ to ‘further science has determined that you may not need to bleach your groceries,’ we have followed the science with bated breath, waiting for the day when science will have the final word. Personally, I continue to pray fervently that 1. God removes this virus from the earth, and 2. We develop a vaccine. Yes, I know a vaccine may not completely solve this issue. See #1.

In the days of Jeremiah, the cream of the crop of Israel, including the king, the scientists and artists, had all been removed from Jerusalem and taken away to Babylon. Jeremiah received a prophecy from God that the people were to settle into this new normal and await God’s promised return to their land. But in the meantime, they were to plant crops and have babies. In other words, everyone needs to wait patiently for God.

Hananiah stood up in the temple and announced that the exiles and all the spoils of war were about to returned in full, and that victory and peace had been achieved. This was not the case. Jeremiah stood to speak the harsh truth of the matter.

Jeremiah 28 (Common English Bible)

Then the prophet Jeremiah responded to Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the Lord’s temple. The prophet Jeremiah said: “Indeed. May the Lord do just as you have said! May the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied and bring back from Babylon the equipment of the Lord’s temple and all the exiles to this place. 

However, listen closely to what I have to say to you and all the people: The prophets who came before you and me long ago prophesied war, disaster, and disease against many lands and great kingdoms. So the prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as one who is actually sent by the Lord only when that prophet’s message is fulfilled.”

I wish that the news that we have conquered this virus and are now safe to return to normal operations was true. It is not. The numbers say otherwise. States that have seen a recent upswing in positive cases are now moving to mandatory face masks and enforced social distancing. Some have issued curfews. Some counties are levying fines for those who don’t comply.

Science now suggests that wearing masks will help us bring this thing to an end. The more compliance we see, the sooner the virus will be defeated. As we move forward, let us continue to pray for our county, state, and national leadership to make wise and informed decisions that will help us defeat this thing. The Hananiah’s among us are trying to claim victory. But Hananiah was wrong. In other words, we all need to wait patiently for God.

See #1.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait by Wende Pritchard

Speaking Truth

Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly had a deep conviction that you needed to stand up and say something? Have you ever experienced a time when the urge to speak out was so overwhelming that you couldn’t stop yourself? Maybe it happened in the middle of an argument, or at the discovery of an injustice or betrayal. Sometimes it happens in the least likely of places, like the ball field or the grocery story or a church administrative meeting.

Hopefully your word is received well after people have a minute to consider what you are saying. I once had an irresistible urge to interrupt a preacher in a church I was visiting. At the end of his sermon, he announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer that Thursday. As I heard the audible gasps around me, I felt compelled to step out into the aisle and call the congregation to lay hands on him and pray for him as he was about to give the benediction.

I knew that I had been prepared for this by the Holy Spirit. Before the service began, I had spotted a decorative jar of anointing oil on top of an unused piano at the side of the sanctuary. So when this moment came, I walked right over to it as I called the people to come out of the pews to pray for their pastor. We had just done a healing service at my church at home, so the scriptures, instructions, and prayers for this were very fresh in my mind.

In other words, God set me up.

If you have ever found yourself speaking a word of truth to a crowd who is startled to hear what you are saying, you’re in good company.

Jeremiah 20 (Contemporary English Version)

You tricked me, Lord,
    and I was really fooled.
You are stronger than I am,
    and you have defeated me.
People never stop sneering
    and insulting me.
You have let me announce
    only destruction and death.
Your message has brought me
nothing but insults
    and trouble.
Sometimes I tell myself
not to think about you, Lord,
    or even mention your name.
But your message burns
in my heart and bones,
    and I cannot keep silent.

In Jeremiah’s situation, his words of prophecy and condemnation of sin were not well received by the people. Go figure. He, too, was set up by God, and he suffered for the words he was compelled to speak. But his faithfulness to the Lord made it impossible to keep silent. In the choice between pleasing people or pleasing God, he chose to please God.

10 I heard the crowds whisper,
    “Everyone is afraid.
Now’s our chance
    to accuse Jeremiah!”
All of my so-called friends
are just waiting
    for me to make a mistake.
They say, “Maybe Jeremiah
    can be tricked.
Then we can overpower him
    and get even at last.”

Choosing to please God is always the right choice. Even when the message is extremely difficult to say, and even harder for others to hear, pleasing God is the only thing that matters. God always stands by those who speak his truth.

11 But you, Lord,
are a mighty soldier,
    standing at my side.
Those troublemakers
will fall down and fail—
    terribly embarrassed,
    forever ashamed.

12 Lord All-Powerful,
    you test those who do right,
and you know every heart
    and mind.
I have told you my complaints,
so let me watch you
    take revenge on my enemies.
13 I sing praises to you, Lord.
You rescue the oppressed
    from the wicked.

Where is God calling you to speak an uncomfortable truth into a situation today? Where is he compelling you to speak a word to someone who is not ready to hear what you need to say? Where do you need to stop pleasing people and choose to please God instead?

I am glad I overcame the awkwardness of taking over the church service that morning many decades ago. As it turned out, that pastor retired and began to attend the church I have served for over ten years now, and he just celebrated his 100th birthday. PRAYER WORKS, PEOPLE!

Whatever you are burning to say, know that if it is God’s truth, he will stand by you. Don’t let fear of reprisal keep you silent any longer. God is with you.

Speaking Truth Shall Set You Free By Carson Creef