“Even in a lifeless wilderness of utter desolation, our Lord is able to find us there and lead us into places of rest.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – February 24, 2022
This is what the Lord says:
“The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the wilderness;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
The people of Israel were a notoriously stubborn and rebellious bunch. In many ways, like a car that constantly pulls in the wrong direction, the story of the Old Testament is one of our Lord setting his people on the way they should go, and then watching them immediately head out in the wrong direction! Convinced they knew what was truly for their good, they ignored the ways of God and gave themselves fully to their own distorted passions and desires.
Jeremiah reveals to us the fruit of this decision. A failure to trust in the goodness and protection of God left Israel conquered, homeless, and desolate. They found themselves once again lost in the wilderness and longing for home. And yet, as our passage reminds us today, even in a lifeless wilderness of utter desolation, our Lord is able to find us there and lead us into places of rest.
Today I want you to reflect upon the way God leads his people out of the wilderness and into his rest. Fully aware of their rebellion and failures, does he come to them with an iron fist, quick to point out their brokenness and rebellion? Does he lead with the law, doubling down on the ways in which they have transgressed the covenant they made with him? Does he remain at a distance, leaving them to stumble after him in the dark? No, no, and no.
“To these broken and beaten down people, the Lord says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Tender compassion and unfailing kindness is the unwavering heart of God towards his people. And if a return to God is to be born out of a free response of love, then there is no place for guilt, shame, or coercion in God’s actions towards us, nor in our response to him. Similarly, and perhaps most difficultly, the same is true in how we relate to one another!
If you’ve ever been in a wilderness season, running from God and his ways, has anger or condemnation ever turned your heart back towards him? On the other hand, when someone you love is far from God, choosing to give into their own wayward longings, does your desire to point out their failures or to air your grievances with them move them closer to you, or push them further away?
As St. Paul reminds us, it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). In the same way, it is the mercy and compassion of others towards us that leads us out of the wilderness, and it is our radical love and tenderness towards others that draws them close and leads us all into the rest and peace of our God.
Father, thank you that you find us in our weakness and sin, not to condemn or judge, but to heal and make whole. Give us the same heart towards others, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In what ways are you tempted to lead in your relationships with judgment or anger, when what is most needed is patience, compassion, and unfailing kindness?
Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 36:7; Titus 3:4-6
Delirious?: Hands of Kindness
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