Running with horses or struggling at the back of the pack?

Week beginning: 25th February, 2018 | By Brent Haywood | Edinburgh

Righteous are you, O LORD,
when I complain to you;
yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and produce fruit;
you are near in their mouth
and far from their heart.
But you, O LORD, know me;
you see me, and test my heart toward you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
……
"If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you are so trusting,
what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?"

Jeremiah 12:1-3 & 5 (ESV)

I think I have developed a bad habit. When commuting home from work I've taken to catching up on the news with the BBC radio app. Maybe it is just a season, but the news is rarely all that encouraging. My bad habit is not listening to the news; it is my reaction to what I hear: it has affected my 'mindset'. As a litigator I need to be alive to the danger of developing a negative mindset. It is very easy to fall into that trap, particularly when the surrounding cultural narrative seems so unhelpful. This holds true in many areas of the law; it can grind us down.

In reflecting on my poor attitude, I was reminded of the remarkable exchange in this passage. Jeremiah is praying with despondency and despair. He is honest enough to tell the Lord what he makes of the situation. Having got a few things off his chest I wonder what he expected in response. Verse 5 sees a robust and honest response from the Lord: "you think this is hard?" I wonder for how long did Jeremiah reflect on this answer.

It is right to take all our concerns to the Lord. When we do that, how good are we at listening to his response? Strong relationships allow for honest exchanges. We serve a compassionate God, but he is the 'Almighty', not the 'All Matey'. Sometimes he does tell us that we have got things out of all proportion; at other times that we need to face up to the hard things.

Prayer Points:

1. This passage is a challenge to 'excellence'. Ask the Lord to reveal to you in what ways might you be struggling along when in fact you can be running with horses.

2. Prayer for the mind of Christ: the gospel protects us from a negative mindset.

3. Pray for those around you who might be locked into a negative mindset – that they might be liberated from their chains by the gospel of Jesus Christ.