Do You Really Want an Answer?

Click here to read Jeremiah 12 on BibleGateway.com

“You are always righteous, Lordwhen I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice. ” – Jeremiah 12:1

Once upon a time, there was a young chap in the tender dating years of middle school, who happened to notice a young lady in one of his classes.  Being the enterprising young man that he was, he proceeded to memorize her class schedule, in order to by coincidence wind up walking beside her in the hall.  After several days of chickening out at the last minute, 0ur fearless hero asked the young lady if she was dating anyone, and received the encouraging answer of “not right now.”  Emboldened, the amorous adventurer asked the poetic follow-up, “well, what about me?”

Quoth the lady: “I don’t think so. I’d rather go out with somebody good looking or fun.”

Thus the young man was left to scour the hallway floor for the remains of his shattered heart, plan for a future as a devotional author, and to ponder the desirability of actually receiving honest answers to questions.

WHY, OH LORD?

Often you’ll hear people complain that God doesn’t answer when they ask Him questions.  But have you ever considered if you actually want to hear the answer?  Do you really want to know why you aren’t being blessed in your business? Do you really want to know why you’re struggling in relationships?  Do you really want to know why life isn’t going great? Maybe ignorance is bliss.

Jeremiah had more reason than most of us to whine, and he brings one of his complaints to God in our chapter today.  In a fairly  common question, Jeremiah wants to know why it looks like the evil are doing so well, and the righteous are suffering. Specifically, he asks God why the enemies of Israel (he’s careful to specify how evil they are, just in case God missed it) seem to be prospering, at Israel’s expense no less.

And God answers: because Israel is evil.  Ouch.

Why isn’t God blessing Israel? Because he’s disciplining them for their unfaithfulness.  In short, they aren’t in line to be blessed, they are in line to go behind the woodshed.  They aren’t actually the righteous, after all.  They ARE the evil people being punished.  Pretty sure that’s not the message from God that Jeremiah wanted to hear.

KINDER, GENTLER SILENCE

Parents often tell their children “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Could it be that God follows the same idea? Maybe rather than crushing our spirits by giving us all the information, he tells us just enough to help us grow.  Consider for a moment, maybe the reason God isn’t answering you is because of his kindness.  Maybe knowing the reason and the answer to your prayer is not something you’d want to hear in the first place.  Do you trust Him enough to believe that his silence is better for you?   Do you trust that not answering might be exactly what you need to hear?

Of course, I also suspect that Jeremiah knew the answer before He even asked.  If we don’t tithe, do we really need God to tell us why our finances are in a shambles?  If we don’t spend time with our spouse, do we really need to ask God why our marriage is struggling?  Maybe we need to admit that the reason we’re asking God is because we don’t want to address the problems we already know?  Do we really want or need God to spell it out for us?  Perhaps He’s silent because the answer is right in front of us.

Maybe sometimes it’s better not to ask questions to which we already know the answer?

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