This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:10,11
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying lies to you.”—Jeremiah 27:14
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”—Matthew 26:39
Sometimes speaking for God is a difficult job.
Take the prophet Jeremiah, for example. He lived at a time when God’s people were experiencing terrible punishment for their sins. When God gave his law through Moses, he told Israel that if they were unfaithful and failed to obey Him and worshiped false Gods, they would be removed from the Promised Land. God is incredibly gracious, and He put up with a lot of garbage for a long time, but finally, 900 years later in Jeremiah’s day, the punishment came. God sent the Babylonians to conquer Israel and drag her people back to Babylon in exile.
Jeremiah’s job was to tell the people this: “This suffering is from God, and there’s no way around it. Go along with it, and there are good things waiting on the other side. God still loves you, and one day He will redeem your lives and bring you back to the good land where you belong.” Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he prophesied that Israel would be in captivity for 70 years, but that this was all still a part of God’s good plans for His people, to prosper them and not to harm them, to give them hope and a future.
The problem was, there were a lot of false prophets telling the people what they wanted to hear: “This will all be over soon. Jeremiah is wrong; it will be one or two years, not seventy. God doesn’t want his people to go through hard things, and before you know it things will miraculously turn around and everything will be right again.” In other words, the false prophets were proclaiming that God is a god of shortcuts, and Jeremiah was saying, No, God is in this long, painful process.
Which is the message we want to hear? Nobody likes to go through hard things. So when someone comes along and says, “All you have to do is have more faith, claim your miracle, live in victory, speak the good things into existence, and you won’t have to through the hard things anymore,” it sounds pretty good to us, especially if they throw in a Bible verse or two.
Now, certainly God can do miracles, and sometimes He displays His glory by doing something unexpected. We always want to be open to the supernatural power of God. But when Jesus prayed in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked the Father if there was any other way, any way to avoid the suffering of the cross, the answer was No. There was no other way. No shortcut. It was something He would have to endure, trusting that God’s plans were good, and that joy and victory were waiting on the other side.
Are you suffering today? I pray God delivers you from it. Sometimes He does. But sometimes He delivers us from suffering by carrying us through it. Sometimes we must simply trust that God still knows what He’s doing, and that there is joy and victory waiting on the other side of the struggle. Sometimes, when we lose a loved one, or go through a difficult season with our finances or our health, there is no shortcut. Like Jesus, we can pray that God will make another way, but submit ourselves to the fact that He may not, and that He is still working for our good through the long, painful process. Whatever you’re going through today, I pray you will be convinced of the goodness and kindness and wisdom of God, and that He will give you the strength to trust Him and wait patiently for His deliverance.