The right words, but the wrong heart
Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. Now let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but in their hearts they give you no credit at all. But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. (Jeremiah 12:1-3)
God never turns a deaf ear to our questions. This may come as good news to some who think they ask too many questions, but God isn’t put off by our questions. He is always open to hearing our concerns. As Jeremiah is seeing the people of Jerusalem taken captive, armies attacking and taking away their homeland, many are crying out, while others are uncertain as to why they are under attack. Jeremiah presents the issue at hand: The wicked take root and they are prospering. He wants to know how this could have happened ‘under God’s watch’. It appeared God had actually ‘planted them’ and allowed them to prosper. Jeremiah just doesn’t understand how this could be the case.
The more we attempt to understand how evil people can seem to enjoy so much ‘good’ in this world, the harder it is for us to not question how God can allow this to continue. Does God find it unacceptable for us to question this occurrence? Not at all, but we should never drift over into questioning his providence or his protection. There are times he will allow certain things to happen to set things up for what he is about to do next (providence). He uses human circumstances to bring about his divine plan. When Jeremiah saw the evil prospering, all the while talking so plainly about God, he saw a disconnect between their actions and their heart. The words were right, but the heart was deceitful.
He is really asking God how he allows such a blatant display of ‘disconnection’ from the one true God. Jeremiah had kept his heart pure – refusing to embrace the culture around him. He had a ‘settled heart’. He wasn’t going to be ‘consumed’ by the ravaging armies because he knew he served a greater God than these nations. There will be times when we find others being ‘consumed’ by the pressures of the times, prospering well during a not so ‘God-honoring’ set of circumstances. They might even say all the right things, but their heart reveals no depth of relationship, no desire to remain pure in the midst of compromising circumstances.
In these moments, we stand in whatever it is we have trusted in the most. Either we stand with the world, or we stand with the one true God. We either trust in the things we can figure out on our own, or we press into God to get his perspective. Jeremiah chose to press in – to bring his ‘complaint’ to God so he could get HIS perspective on what was happening. Sometimes that is all we can do – bring it to God and then listen when he answers. Just sayin!