This is post 3 of 9 about the book of Jeremiah.
We will suffer in this life, and not just because of things being inflicted on us. We will suffer to the measure that we become like our God, who suffers willingly on account of our sin. He watches those He loves and wallow around in our manic behaviors. Jeremiah learned a thing or two about God’s suffering, and so should we.
The Emotions of Jeremiah
He is known as the “lamenting prophet” for a reason. It’s often difficult—and perhaps impossible—to tell when God is speaking and when Jeremiah is speaking. Isn’t that the point? When our lives are so aligned with His, when we are so in tune with Him, won’t we feel what He feels and think what He thinks and see what He sees because of His Spirit within us?
In 4:11-17, it seems so much as though Jeremiah is speaking and all of a sudden, we see, “declares the LORD,” at the end.
Again, in 4:18-26, we see a perspective not common to mankind (above our purview), yet it seems to be Jeremiah’s anguish. He is feeling the anguish of God over His people.
When we live properly among the least-reached, we will enter into God’s suffering for them. We will learn to love them as He does, and thus we will hate their sin and rebellion as He does. We must learn self-control, as He has, or we will end up like Nehemiah—beating people, pulling out their hair and chasing them from his presence like an angry child (Nehemiah 13:25,28).
The Emotions of God
To experience God’s fullest love for people, we must experience His anger over injustice and brokenness, but without pretending to have—or even desiring—His righteous power to bring about wrath. Vengeance is His, full stop (Deuteronomy 32:35).
If a man is unfaithful to his wife, his wife SHOULD experience anger, because anger shows that she loves him enough to care that he has hurt her. As a more common example, we SHOULD often find ourselves angry at our kids’ foolishness and selfishness, yet not disciplining them out of that anger but out of a deep love for their well-being and growth. If anger and love can be experienced at the same time in a human heart, why would this not be a reflection, poor and imperfect as it may be from us, of the heart of our Father?
The Goodness of God
How can we feel both at the same time? The Scriptures actually have a word for this: it’s “goodness” (Hebrew: toob / Greek: agathosune). This word combines God’s “rightness” or holiness, His hatred for sin, with His desire for people to be saved (grace and mercy).
God’s goodness makes Him both compassionate toward sinners and committed to punishing evil. It was His goodness that drove Him to act on our behalf on the Cross. It’s the single word “goodness” that binds these apparently contradictory terms together in perfect harmony.
Join me in reflecting on the unbelievable goodness of God, and let that fuel your interactions with the people He has called you to serve.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.