One of the more fruitful aspects of studying Old Testament prophets is the conversational relationship many of them have with God. Often, when a prophet prays or asks questions, God answers. In my walk with God, I may not always hear an audible voice answering me when I pray, but I do have the record of God’s responses to His prophet’s prayers throughout Scripture. In this passage, Jeremiah has wondered what God was up to in having him buy a field that was useless to him and for the foreseeable future. Jeremiah opens his prayer in faith by saying, “Nothing is too hard for you.” (vs. 17) And he closes it with a request for understanding, “Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, ‘Buy the field…’ though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.” (vs. 25)
God answers by beginning where Jeremiah began. He says:
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (vs. 26)
Later, at the end of the prayer, God reiterates to Jeremiah that he will restore the land and bring the exiles back thus making the purchase of the land a fruitful and purposeful act of hope on Jeremiah’s part. But it is the beginning of God’s answer that intrigues me.
Often in Jeremiah’s life he poses direct questions to God and in may of those instances we have God’s response. What is telling about God’s answers to Jeremiah are that he rarely-if ever-directly answers the question. This passage is no exception. Instead of reassuring Jeremiah right up front that Judah will come back from exile and the land will be restored, he asks Jeremiah if he has the faith to leave it in his hands.
Instead of telling Jeremiah exactly when, where and how the exile will end and the land will be restored he essentially tells the prophet, “I can handle it.”
Can I accept that kind of answer from God? Do I have what it takes to press on in life as faithfully as I know how when the resolution to my present need is out there in the unforeseen future? Almost every time God speaks and answers Jeremiah’s prayers for understanding, the gist of the response is that what Jeremiah really needs is faith in God and the strength to persevere. As a follower of Christ I will never have all my questions answered, so what then will be my demeanor toward life? Will I base my relationship with God on blessing and positively answered prayer? Or will I base it on the “rock that is higher than I”? (Ps. 61:2)
In his excellent biography of Oswald Chambers, David McCasland tells a story in which Oswald and his wife, Biddy, visited a sick friend who was close to death. When they returned home, Biddy wondered out-loud about what God would do. Oswald responded, “I don’t care what God does. It’s what God is that I care about.” Oswald’s remark was not intended to be blunt or unfeeling. Instead, it was intended to convey the fact that though God’s actions are sometimes confusing, the Lord himself never is.
I may not always be able to explain God’s timing or actions with regard to my situation, but I can always affirm the truth that with him nothing is impossible. That is the promise and the faith that will sustain me through any and all seasons in life.