1-13-14: Whether Pleasing or Displeasing
In Jeremiah chapters 41 and 42, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had taken over all the land of the children of Israel. He had left only the poor people in the land to continue to farm it. When some renegades hassled them, they ran to the prophet Jeremiah, asking him to pray for them. They said, “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” Jeremiah 42:6 (NKJ).
That sounds like a really good prayer, and it would have been had they been sincere. Jeremiah said he’d pray for them and went away and did so. Ten days later he returned and told them that God said to stay in the land, farm it, and don’t be afraid of the king of Babylon. God would protect them. However, God knew their hearts and had told Jeremiah the real truth about them. Jeremiah revealed their true nature to them saying, “For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it’” Jeremiah 42:20 (NKJ).
No matter how good our prayers sound, if we don’t mean them down in our hearts, God knows that. God is not a punk. Our surface whining, pleading, and complaining is not going to trick Him into doing our will or believing that we are genuinely sincere. Do we really intend to obey whether what He says to us is pleasing or not?
It’s amazingly simple to do those things God says which we don’t mind doing. It’s pleasing to submit to husbands who love us and to love wives who submit to us. It’s pleasing to bless people who bless us. It’s pleasing to give out of an abundance. It’s pleasing to do what I love to do when what I love to do lines up with a clear Scripture passage.
But oh what happens to us when the not-so-pleasing verses pop up? It’s not pleasing to wait until marriage to have sexual pleasure when we’re in our mid-thirties with no prospects in sight. It’s not pleasing to deny our appetite when we know we have to look out for our health. It’s not pleasing to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us. It’s not pleasing to forgive those who have wronged us. It’s’ not pleasing to line my life up with Scriptures that go against what I feel, especially when others around me say what I feel is okay. It’s not pleasing to accept death and sickness as inevitabilities of sin in this world.
Are we hypocrites or can we sincerely say, “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God”? Let’s trust God enough to realize that whatever He says and appoints for our lives – whether pleasing or displeasing to our flesh or psyche – comes for the hand of Him who loves us and knows best when we don’t. Worship God who knows what’s best.
©2010, 2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com.