Have you ever felt deceived by God? How so?
Depending on the translation, Jeremiah opens today’s verses with deception. פָּתָה, פָּתָה [pathah /paw·thaw/] also means entice, persuade, flatter, allure. The non-deceptive understandings of the word better fit God’s character, though from Jeremiah’s point of view that may merely be semantics.
Jeremiah is driven to deliver God’s words. He says that God seized him, and later says that God’s words are like a fire burning in his heart. No matter how much Jeremiah would prefer that he would deliver God’s word, he doesn’t seem to be able to help himself.
If there is any sense of deception, it is the common assumption that following God’s words and speaking them means that only good things will occur. Jeremiah’s complaint is that he was faithful and a good steward, and yet nothing good is returned.
The concept of exchange (I do something faithful; God does something good) is one of those issues that has long been a problem in the church. Some call it the “health and wealth gospel.” Jeremiah seemed to have some sense of that as well. Jeremiah is faithful and gets the short end of the stick.
Being “driven” for God would seem to be a good thing. It doesn’t always work that way. There are plenty of people in the world who are faithful, but are endangered (e.g., persecuted Christians) or are not “blessed” by material things or even good health.
The early church wondered these same things, too. Paul’s words about wisdom and revelation are not just to the Ephesians, but to all the church. Often it is only through wisdom and revelation do we see that the bad can bring God glory, and (over the long haul) bring us blessings.
In our culture, we can be blinding be wealth and health blessings, and be unable to discern the greatest type of blessing…spiritual blessings. Spiritual blessings may be as simple as joy or a deep as peace (that surpasses all understanding).
Think of a difficult time in your life. What was the spiritual result of that difficult time? Can you imagine a similar result through only positive things?