Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there’ . . .
I believe that faith fundamentally comes in two forms: faith to act and faith to wait. People generally tend to gravitate toward the former as “real” faith, because people who act in faith don’t just sit around and let the world pass them by; they boldly go out in the name of the Lord and conquer lands and win souls. These people are like the action heroes of Christianity.
Rightly so, we admire guys like Hudson Taylor who pioneered missions to inland China, or Jim Elliot who gave his life in preach to the Auca tribe in Ecuador, or even our many AMI missionaries who serve the Lord abroad in various countries. The Bible even seems to support the notion that faith to act is a superior form. Read Hebrews 11: everyone mentioned was commended for some kind of action. If you need further convincing of this, look no further than the apostle James who declared, “Faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26).
But every so often, the Bible gives us a glimpse at what waiting faith looks like. Waiting faith hears the gentle whisper of God that says, “Stay where you’re at, even though the circumstances look bleak. Trust Me, I’ll turn things around.” In a lot of ways, I think waiting faith is harder than “faith in action”, because when we are doing something, at least we feel like we have some control over the circumstances. But waiting that requires us to stretch muscles we are not used to moving is easier said than done. It requires us to trust, pray, persevere, hope, and stay optimistic, all of which I would argue are also actions.
I understand why the remnant of Israel would want to go to Egypt. Look at vs. 14: Egypt seemed like a land of peace, abundance, and opportunity. For the last how many years, Jerusalem was a warzone, people went hungry, and the threat of being conquered constantly loomed overhead like vultures circling a carcass. Simply put, the Israelites were tired, and Judah probably looked like Pride Rock after years of being ruled by Scar. (Did anyone see that movie last night?). So why would they want to hanging on, in Israel? But despite all this, the Lord tells his people to stay in Judah and trust Him—talk about a seemingly powerless position.
This morning, let me ask you this: Is there something that you feel like the Lord is telling you to wait on? Isn’t it funny how it seems like when the Lord wants you to act, He practically shouts, but when He wants you to remain, it feels like He’s whispering? He’s there—you might just have to learn to distinguish His gentle voice.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to walk by faith and not by sight. If You want me to wait, let me do so in prayer, patiently, steadfastly, and hopefully. Help me to trust You, especially when I don’t see a way out of this situation.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 1-2