One of the things that will make many Christians fall away from the faith is a weak foundation when it comes to trials. We say many platitudes, and try not to think about what happens where we actually tested. If you’ve ever read anything on the many martyrs of the church (from of old to the present day), you will often come away with, “Thank you, Lord, for that not being me.”
Psalm 23:5 reads, “You set a table for me right in front of my enemies…” While it is often read and interpreted as a “thumb your nose at your enemies” that is probably not the intent. As this Psalm is one of shepherding, the intent is likely more along the lines of being so confident in God, so reliant on God’s power, that even a resting meal (versus standing up or eating hurriedly) is possible in peace while among one’s enemies.
Though, many of us are probably not so assured of God’s protection were we to be placed in a so-called relaxing position among our enemies. How bold would we really be? How ready would we be to deal with the emotional anxiety that it would involve?
The concept in Jeremiah 10:19 is that there is pain and a consequence to deal with in these situations. It’s not just deal with it, but not even seeking to escape it. In Jeremiah, the consequences and pains of exile are coming and the God-honoring response is to accept it and not try to escape it. The reality of soon having a table in the presence of one’s enemies really comes into focus for Jeremiah.
- What does it mean to you to be seated in the presence of your enemies? Who have been your enemies? Who are your enemies?
- What does it mean to have enemies, and yet be told to love them and pray for them? If this is the case, do Christians really have enemies?
- What battle or pain are you trying to escape right now that God may actually be calling you to lean into?
Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence wherever we are. Guide us through the times we are to embrace our trouble and pain and lead us out of the times when they are not for your benefit or ours. Amen.