Holy complaints

Jeremiah 12:1-4

The prophet Jeremiah’s words in chapter 12 are freeing. I appreciate his attitude and honesty. He tells God he knows the Lord will be in the right even after Jeremiah challenges him. God must have some good explanation. But that won’t stop Jeremiah from making his case. At the root of his struggle is the question, Why does the way of the guilty prosper?

People have asked me many times, Why do bad things happen to good people? The assumption, I suppose, is bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. They should happen to bad people. When we reflect on that a little more, that logic breaks down. But Jeremiah’s question is one I wrestle with.

Before people called us Christians, they called us followers of The Way. Jesus became our way of understanding God’s will. He also became our way of living. God has a way that is right and holy. The psalmist said God’s way is perfect (Psalm 18:30). We trust that to be true.

Jeremiah recognized another way that stands against God’s perfect way. It is the way of the guilty. Many translations use the word wicked. One translation offers the prophet’s question this way: Why is it that the way of ungodly men prospers? That all that deal very treacherously are flourishing?

Of course, the prophet isn’t the only person to wonder about that. We could look to biblical examples. But countless people of God throughout history have probably dared to ask the same thing. Why does is feel like God’s way doesn’t always win out?

My encouragement is to keep asking. Keep reading and you’ll see that God speaks to Jeremiah after his question. There is a response to our prayer! It may not feel like the answer we want. It may not even clarify anything to us at times. But let’s reflect on what Jeremiah is doing. Part of what he is doing is lamenting what is wrong in his world. And lament is a holy act of devotion.

Yes, pray for children who are suffering because of abusive parents. Pray for the weak who get taken advantage of. It’s also okay to cry out to God and ask why any of them even had to suffer to begin with. Why did someone with more strength, power or authority force their way on them? And why are those people allowed to keep doing what they do?

Lament is trust in God’s holy and perfect way. We know God’s way is holy and perfect. We know the way of the wicked is just that. Wicked. Our lament is our prayer to God to make the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I’m convinced God is okay with these holy complaints.

So, cry out to God about those things that aren’t right and just. And, as we learn to lament, may we also learn to listen for God’s response.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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