This is re-posted from 2011.
Today has been a day full of shocks and a pleasant surprises… from the deacon who gave me a nice Christmas gift for helping him greet on Sunday mornings to the woman who asked if I’d like to take her place as church clerk (still praying about that one, but it was a compliment to be asked) to getting to ride in the front with the driver of a horse and wagon ride on my SECOND (and free) trip of the night. And above all that, a new take on something in Jeremiah. Hopefully I can write about that another time. Notes are in the car and it’s too cold to run out and get them!
Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise given after God warned them to straighten up for 23 years (Jer 25)… and they didn’t do it. That promise came after they were sent into exile. So was exile a punishment, or what they determinedly went for even after being warned? If a child is told not to put his hand on the stove and does anyway and is burned, was the damage/hurt/pain the result of the parent’s punishment or the child’s willfulness?
I was taught that God was holy. And He is. I was told that He was just. He’s that as well. But to base a knowledge of God on those two attributes is to overlook several things. Yes, God is holy and just. But He is also merciful, gracious, and loving. He isn’t just holy, just, merciful, gracious and loving, though. He IS love. Not everything that happens is a result of God being angry at us or punishing us. Many times, He warns us to protect us. Not from His wrath if we disobey, but from ourselves, and from the pain we will face as we learn why He said no to begin with (like a child touching a hot stove).
When we disobey, though His holiness and justice demand punishment, but very often His love outweighs justice, and He promises- and plans- to bless in spite of our willfulness. That’s grace. That’s mercy. That’s my God.
I just never expected to find that in Jeremiah.