God Wouldn’t Plan Something Like This

January 11, 2015 1 comment

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the story, a few months ago my father had an affair and then abandoned his wife and kids. It’s been pretty brutal. It has been painful and sad and frustrating and confusing. The whole situation feels pretty evil. In my experiencing of this, I’ve had a lot of unanswered questions.

In a circumstance like mine it is common for people to blame God for what happened or ask questions such as, “Why God? Why did you do this? Why did you let this happen?” I think the urge to either blame God or to wonder to God about why he would allow something to occur as if God is responsible come from a misunderstanding about God.

Some people view God as a cosmic Lego Master and us as the lego men and women. God constructs the world that we live in and controls everything that happens within it. Nothing can happen without His willing it to happen. Humans are the lifeless lego guys, who cannot so much as move an arm without God desiring the arm to move and acting to make it move. God is the Lego Master who decides exactly the way the world will be and exactly what he wants his toys to do, they have no real volition of their own.

If this is the case, then God really is to blame for my father’s affair and abandonment. In the God as Lego Master scenario, my father’s affair was all a part of God’s cosmic plan. My pain then becomes just an execution of God’s will. If God is actively controlling everything, then it makes perfect sense for me to blame Him. It is His fault.

Another understanding of God that is different on the surface but similar in practice. This understanding of God assumes 3 things: 1. God created everything. 2. Before God created everything, He knew the future. 3. The future already exists as a set of inevitabilities that just haven’t happened yet. In this scenario, God is not actively controlling His lego set to make sure His cosmic plan is executed perfectly, but God creates the world knowing all of the inevitabilities of the future and thus sets into motion His cosmic plan without having to actively control it because everything that occurs was inevitable anyway.

With these assumptions, God is more like a watcher of a movie he has already seen and memorized. God’s creation of the world is like He picked out a movie he knew by heart and pushed play. The movie was already recorded before God put it in, and so God was the ultimate cause of everything that occurred on the screen because God picked that particular movie. God could have picked out a different prerecorded film and watched that film and so caused a different set of scenes to play out on screen.

In the same way, when God created the earth in the way He did, knowing what the prerecorded future was, He becomes the ultimate cause of everything that occurred. He chose to create the earth in such a way as to cause this set of circumstances to occur. Of course God could have created the earth differently so that a different set of circumstances would occur. Because God chose ahead of time exactly what would occur from the beginning to the end, God is responsible for everything that occurs.

If this is true about God, if God knew ahead of time that making the world the way He chose to would inevitably lead to my father’s affair and abandonment, then God is still to blame. Even if God isn’t actively controlling the actions of my father, God is still the cause. He could have created the world differently so that my Father didn’t have an affair. He didn’t. He chose to create things in such a way that my father’s actions were going to happen. In this scenario, it was God’s will and desire that my father would do what he did because that’s what God chose for him to do. The decisions my father made were just inevitabilities caused by God since the creation of the world

But God is not like this. God wouldn’t orchestrate the world in such a way so that my father has an affair. God would never want something like that to occur. God wouldn’t will something like that to occur. God’s didn’t plan for my father to abandon his wife and kids. A God who, through whatever means, would cause my father to treat his family the way he did is not a good God.

But He is a good God. When God created the world, He did not create a bunch of lego guys for whom he would control their every action and movement. He did not create a world where He chose ahead of time for humanity what their every action and movement would be. God created a world of choice. Immediately after God created humanity He set before them choices to make. He gave them choices where there was no moral component, where there was no right vs. wrong, like, “you decide what to name the animals.” God also gave them moral choices like, “don’t eat from this tree.”

God gave humanity choices. He gave people the ability to accept Him, trust Him, be in relationship with Him, and follow Him. He even gave people the ability to reject him. Why would God give people the choice to accept Him or to reject Him? Because God is love and love cannot be coerced. If God has already determined what we will and won’t do, then we can’t love because our entire lives are just a series of inevitabilities that God forced us to do. Love cannot be forced. Love is only possible if it is voluntary. God created a world of love, and thereby, a world where people have the ability choose. By creating a world of free beings who can make a multitude of different choices, God made a world of possibilities.

One of these possibilities was that my father would have an affair and abandon his children, his friends, and his life. One of these possibilities is that my father would have humbled himself before God, taken every thought captive, and submitted even his most minor lustful thought underneath the reign of Jesus and in so doing, would never have even considered engaging in the behavior he did. The former is what he chose, but he could have chosen the latter. God is responsible for creating a world of choice where love is possible, but Mitch is responsible for rejecting God and choosing selfishness over love. God is not to blame for my situation, my father is.

Of course God wasn’t caught off guard by the choices of my father. God never wanted him to make those decisions, but God knows all the possible decisions he could have made. God would never plan for Mitch to do what he did, but God does have a plan to bring good out of what my father did. God knows all the possibilities and He is equally prepared to bring good out of all of them. God is not to blame. God is the one to cling to when things don’t go the way we wanted them to or the way He wanted them to. God is not the one to blame. God, with us, also wishes this never happened.

Categories: Family Disruption Tags: ,

How Am I Supposed to Feel?

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

This is another post in my series regarding my father’s affair and abandonment of his family. The day I found out a lot about what my father had been up to, I left the house where he was and went home. I was going to sleep there, but I just couldn’t. My stomach felt too sick, I just had to go home.

When I got home, I didn’t know what to do really. I talked to my wife about everything. I didn’t really know how to feel. I didn’t really know what to feel. I knew I felt sick. I didn’t know how to process what should be going on in my mind and in my soul. God used two events to help.

One of my toilets clogged the day after I found out about my dad’s crap. I spent a couple of hours trying out draino and a couple of different snakes to unclog the toilet. I couldn’t get it. I went into the basement and spent some time in the crawl space evaluating the problem. It turns out, when the sewage pipes were installed, some went at a slightly upward angle. This almost always creates issues.

After diagnosing the problem and trying to think of a creative and clean solution, I couldn’t. I used a skilsaw with a metal blade to cut  out the section of the pipe where it flowed upward. The whole section was full of feces and toilet paper. I cleaned it out and fixed the problem. This whole process, partially due to being in a very cramped space, took several hours.

I spent the day dealing with human crap. Some of it was mine, some of it was others’, but it was all disgusting. I felt so gross. In a weird way, it felt degrading to be full of human feces. I felt a little embarrassed. All I could do in the moment was to keep going, to move forward to fix the sewage despite how gross it was. Later on that night, I was very frustrated.

I was so frustrated with having to endure all that grossness. I was completely exhausted. First, I had to deal with my dad’s crap, and now I had to deal with actual crap. Both were frustrating, angering even. I even felt a little frustrated with God, as if he was the one who made my dad seek out an affair or as if he installed the plumbing in my house. I started expressing everything that was going through my head and heart, and then I just broke.

The frustration was overwhelming. I wept because I was overwhelmed. Everything that was happening was angering. I wept because I was angry. I was embarrassed by what was going on. I wept because I was embarrassed. The future looked impossible and I only saw difficult and painful solutions. I wept because I didn’t know what to do. It was painful to find out about the crap in my dad’s life that had been building up and to find out about the crap in my drains that had been building up. I wept because I hurt.

That night I had a dream. I dreamt that I was my 8 year old sister. I wasn’t actually her I guess, but I was experiencing her thoughts and feelings. In my dream, I had just found out what my dad had been up to. I found out how he had treated my mother. I saw him, and recognized him as someone different. It was as if the dad I thought I knew had died.

In this dream, experiencing the thoughts and feelings of my little sister, 3 things were overwhelming. I was very confused. I didn’t understand why this was happening, how it had happened, or if it was my fault. I was very afraid. I didn’t know what the future would hold. I didn’t know how I would make it. I didn’t know who else might leave. I was very sad. My protector betrayed me. My loved one abandoned me. My world was falling apart. I wondered if I deserved to be treated this way.

When I woke up I prayed. It then felt as if God responded, “You know those emotions you felt through her, it’s okay for you to feel that too. You were hurt in the same way as she was. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way either.”

So, those things helped me figure out what I was feeling about my father’s actions. Of course it is okay to feel however I felt, but for a day and a half, I didn’t really know how I felt. There can be a great relief in recognizing emotions for what they are, and even though they are pretty crappy, experiencing them and all the crap that comes with them. Walking through the pain can clear the emotional drain so the new crap flushes easier. :)

Categories: Family Disruption

Reinterpreting the Past

October 25, 2014 1 comment

A few months prior to my father’s infidelity, he reached out to me more than he had in the past few years. He started texting more. He offered help. He frequently invited me to spend time with him at the cabin. He asked me out for coffee. He would engage with me in conversations about things we disagreed with and remain in the conversation.

He invited me to do a book study with him. I was not very excited about the book, it just was not the type of book I usually enjoy. Still, with all his reaching out, this was one of the ways I was going to reach out to him. I thought that meeting weekly would be good for us and, even if I didn’t like the book, it provided us some spiritual material to talk about.

It was a good time. We had a lot of really good conversations and I felt he understood more about my view of God and how that shapes the say I see the world. He also shared a lot more of his frustrations with me about other people. From my perspective at the time, he was not sharing his frustrations in a gossipy way, but in a personalized manner about the way things that happened in his relationships with others affected him.*

I also reached out to him. I invited myself on a men’s retreat, even though I wasn’t a part of the church and deliberately engaged with not just him, but also his community. I was enjoying our time together. I think we were legitimately having more fun together than ever before. He was learning to interact with me more like the peer I have been treating him as since 15. I was reaching out to him and he was reaching out to me. I actually enjoyed being with him. I hoped that at some point we might connect at a substantive level.

We were spending more time together and being more deliberate with each other, something felt off. There were times when he was sharing things that were at least somewhat intimate and I was sharing intimate things, but it felt like we were absent from each other. All the appearances of the conversation were that we were connect, but it didn’t feel like we were connecting. It was as if we both reached out our hands to touch each other, and I could see our hands touching, but I could not feel the sensation of our hands touching. Something was not quite right.

The weekend I discovered what was going on I was actually hoping to find out what was going on. I did not think I would discover what I did. I had a few suspicions, but none of them were quite as substantial and heartbreaking as what was actually happening. I did not expect to find what I did. Of course, when I did find out, some of our inability to connect made sense.

But then, I had this problem. He had been reaching out to me. He had been asking me real questions about my life. He had been spending time with me and kind to me and affectionate with me. And then I find out he was trying to cheat on his. And then he abandons me. And later I find out he had been growing distant from most other intimate relationships in his life.

I’m having trouble figuring out how to explain the problem. It’s an emotionally confusing one. I felt good about the way he was reaching out to me and about our conversations and hopeful about our future relationship, but then… all of this. So, my problem is: how do I interpret his past reaching out to me?

Was it that, despite everything that was going on inside of him, he really wanted relationship with me? Did he really care about me? Did he really value me, my thoughts, my desires, my feelings? Was he reaching out to me because he loved me? Or was he putting on a show to hide his heart and behavior? Was he trying to do something good with his relationships so he didn’t feel so bad about his past actions? Was he feeling lonely because he was growing distant from his other relationships because of his sin and so he attached himself more to me as somewhat of an outsider to his daily existence? Did he use me so he didn’t feel so lonely? Was he telling me his frustrations with his life and with others because no one else would listen because they knew better? Did he see the breaking of relationship with others that was coming and was trying to get me on his side before everything came out?

I don’t know. I don’t know why he reached out to me. I don’t know how I should feel about his pursuing a relationship with me. Should I look back and remember fondly the time when he sought after me or should I look back and remember with sorrow the time when he used me? I don’t know. I don’t even think he knows why he did what he did. It’s probably a complex combination of many reasons and motivations.

Life is just like that sometimes. We are often left wondering what happened, what caused it, why it occurred, and how we should feel about it. We don’t always get the answers we seek. I’m sure I could look back at what happened and come up with a few different explanations as to what occurred and why in order to make sense of the whole situation to myself. But, even if I did that, I still wouldn’t know for sure. I might be able to make sense of the situation, but just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it’s true. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a real answer.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to have things remain unresolved. It’s okay to not know all the answers to the “why”s. I’m okay looking back and saying, “I just don’t know” because of where I am in the present. I’m okay. I’m good. Because I am not alone. I am not unloved. I am not undesired. I am not unwanted. I am as close to my true Father as I have ever been, and He will never leave me, never stop loving me, and never stop pursuing me.

*In case you are reading this and suspect you might be one of the people who he was expressing frustrations about, I want to make a few things clear. First, when people are expressing negative things about other people to me, I usually consider it to be people venting their frustration and putting words to what was frustrating to them about a situation. I don’t really trust their perspective on the circumstances or others. I do not then proceed to think poorly about the person they are talking about. If you were talked poorly about, I think no differently about you than I did before you were discussed.

Second, I very frequently make suggestions on how the person venting can see it from the perspective of those they have a problem with. I nearly always suggest they express their feelings and frustrations to that person directly in a loving manner. I regularly defend those who are being talked poorly about, but are not there to defend themselves, even if I have never met the person (ask my wife, sometimes it drives her crazy :). If you think you might have been talked poorly about, I probably defended you, I most likely provided a way of seeing things from your perspective, and I assuredly suggested he speak to you directly.

Categories: Family Disruption Tags: , , ,

“Nothing Personal” Can Be Very Personal

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

One thing that struck me about my father’s response to having his adultery found out was that he didn’t mean anything personal by it. I suspect he would say that he never meant to hurt anyone. He didn’t want anyone to be negatively affected by what he was doing. It may be true that he had no intention to cause anyone harm.

One of the last texts he sent me, perhaps the last one, went something like this: “I am very sorry that I have hurt you and your mother and your siblings by what I have done.” The crazy part of the text is that at the time he sent it he was on his way to go spend time with another woman and her family. At the very moment he was apologizing for hurting me, he was also abandoning me. He regretted the pain his actions caused, but he did not regret the actions he took.

Even though I didn’t know at the time he was running away, I still saw the text for what it was and called him out on this half apology, but I think what he did say was true. I think he was careful to phrase it so that it was true. He really didn’t want anyone to be hurt by what he did. He didn’t like hurting people. He just wanted to think lustfully about other women who were not his wife and have sex with them. He just wanted to be free from the pressures of being in a committed family.

I suspect it is true that he didn’t want to hurt anyone because my experience of him has never been that he has ill will toward others or a masochistic desire to hurt them. However, he has often leaned toward selfishness. He has frequently existed in a self-centered world where he cannot see past his own desires. His adultery was him choosing to enclose himself completely in a world where only he exists. The only reality that exists to him, the only reality that matters to him, is how he feels and what he wants. He did not care that his actions would hurt others. He apologized simply because he didn’t like feeling bad that he hurt others.

He didn’t have a personal vendetta against me, but that doesn’t make his actions impersonal. He hurt me just as bad as he would have if he would tried to. He never meant to hurt me, but he didn’t care enough not to. An odd part of me almost wishes he was angry with me. I wish he had something against me. I wish he was trying to hurt me with his actions, at least then I would be important enough to him that he had some sort of negative feelings toward me. I would have mattered in some way, even a negative one.

One of the most frustrating things about seeing him existing in this self-centered world where he doesn’t see or care about others is that I sometimes am self-focused in the same way he is. I can live as no one else exists. I can curl up in my little cocoon where I am the only person I can see and my desires and feelings and wants are the only things that matter to me. I can sometimes do things that hurt others that I never intend to hurt others. I was just being selfish and didn’t care enough to think about the effect that my actions have on other people

Sometimes, you probably are too. There are many reasons we might live selfishly. Sometimes we are hurting so bad we can’t see past our own pain. Sometimes we want things so bad we go after them regardless of consequences. Sometimes we don’t believe that we matter enough to actually be able to hurt other people. We think we are so unimportant that no one really cares what we do, and if we are inconsequential to them, then our actions can’t hurt them.

The way out is to live in light of the truth. The truth is we all matter. The truth is we have all been given choices that have great power to impact those around us. The truth is that a self-centered world is a very small and dark world. The truth is that we won’t get over our hurt without focusing on others and building relationship with them. The truth is that the selfish things we want that will hurt others are empty and destructive to both others and to ourselves. Those things will never give us what we want, because what we really want, what will really bring fulfillment to our heart is intimacy with God and others. A selfish life only brings more emptiness and loneliness.

Sin and Separation

October 17, 2014 2 comments

As I continue on in my emotional processing, some more details are relevant.

After I confronted my father about some stuff I found out about him, he talked around it and downplayed everything. I kept trying to bring him back to what was actually going on, and he kept sidestepping. He said a lot of things that were designed to avoid the issue. He was even saying things about wanting to help single mothers because they are kind of like orphans and widows in distress. He was committing adultery and trying to put a positive spin on it. He looked like a deer in the headlights that didn’t know which way to run, so he ran in circles.

I was looking for some emotion of sorrow. I was looking for regret. I was looking for a contrite heart. I continued to try to bring him back to his sin so he would see it for what it was. He didn’t. He just ran in circles.

A deer in the headlights is understandably frightened because it is probably going to be hit by a car. He was a deer in the headlights, but my car wasn’t moving. I had already hit the brakes. He did not need to fear the headlights or the car behind them. The headlights were an invitation for him to come to me, exposed by the light, and hop into the car with me.

He didn’t. He wouldn’t come toward me. After running in circles, he ran off into the woods.

A couple of days after I confronted him, he sent me a few texts. I sent him a few texts back. He never responded. I found out that he had ran off hundreds of miles away. I sent him more texts over the coming weeks. I called a few times too. I even drove and spent a day and a half looking for him and waiting for him. I never saw him. He never responded. I think that was a couple of months ago. I still haven’t heard anything.

Sin separates us from God. It also separates us from others. There are lot of reasons this might happen. Sometimes when you sin against someone they don’t want to be around you. Sometimes when you sin against someone you don’t want to be around them because you feel guilty about how you wronged them. Sometimes people feel ashamed and guilty about their sin, so they want to distance themselves from everyone because they feel ashamed being around people who might expose their shame.

There is another way sin distances us from God and others. When we sin, we are acting in a way we were never designed to be. We are acting in a way that is contrary to who we actually are. When we are acting in a way that is incongruent with who God made us to be, we are not really being ourselves. When we are not really ourselves, people can only connect with the false self we put forth.

Sin creates an internal divide between who we really are and how are we are behaving. The internal divide sin creates disconnects us from ourselves. When we are disconnected from ourselves we can’t connect to others. When we can’t connect to others, we are apart from them, even when we are in the same room. A life of sin, a life devoted to sin, leads to a life of distance from other people, full of false representations and fake conversations. Sin separates us from God, ourselves, and others.

This separation does not have to be permanent. Repentance, changing our ways and what we are devoted to, changes our circumstances. Turning from our sin and toward Jesus immediately reunites us with God, which progressively unites us with ourselves, which enables us to be united with others by connecting to them with our true selves. If you want real relationship, if you want real intimacy, run away from the sin which causes you to run away, and fall into the embrace of a gracious God.

Categories: Family Disruption Tags: , , ,

Halting My Creativity

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Hey ya’ll. I haven’t been blogging much because at any time I am working on 2-3 different projects that involve writing. These projects are more important to me, so usually, when I consider blogging I think I should spend that time working on the other theological stuff I have to work on.

However, creating has not been easy lately. I often sit down to write and am distracted, sometimes overcome, by thoughts and emotions that aren’t directly related to, say, writing a Bible study or a sermon. My heart and mind are frequently distracted by a wounded soul full of pain, frustration, anger, regret, and confusion. It is tough to think creatively with these internal distractions.

My hope is that I will be able to use my blog to help release some of these thoughts and feelings as they come, that I might be released to work on some of the projects my heart is passionate about. I may be able to process things in such a way as to say something insightful. We will see. Enjoy.

I do not feel these negative emotions because I am a melancholic person (although, that’s usually not an unfair description). I actually feel these things because of the very specific actions of another person. Here’s some of what happened (I think I will share more later):

A couple of months ago, I found out that my father was going on Craigslist and trying to have affairs on his wife, and my mother, of 30 years. That’s the gist of beginning. At some point, I’m unclear as to whether this point is before or after I found out about his crap and confronted him about it, and it doesn’t matter, he did successfully cheat on his wife.

Now, I’m not sure how much information is appropriate to share. Here is what is actually going on in my head, “I’m not sure how much he would want me to share.” Of course, I can share whatever I want to. If he did not want people knowing he is an adulterer who abandons his family, then he probably shouldn’t commit adultery or abandon his family. It’s a funny thing we do as people sometimes, I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. Sometimes we try to protect the perpetrator.

I’m not sure why, but it may be because we are all perpetrators in some way and we would want others to protect us. I suppose in this context, protecting is really about hiding someone’s sin from others. If we put someone else’s sin out there, then perhaps another will put ours out there. I suppose that is scary. Fearing the exposure of our evil may keep us from exposing the evil of others.

Perhaps some foolish boasting will help. I have wronged everyone I’ve ever met. At one point or another, I have hid my sin from everyone I’ve met. I have hurt thousands of people in my life. I will hurt more. I have been blessed with a beautiful understanding of God’s word, but I certainly haven’t let that understanding stop me from crucifying Jesus. I have been given every advantage but been spiritually destitute all the same. I am the worst person I have ever met, and I have met some very evil people.

But still, I am loved. More than that, I am forgiven for all my wrongs. Still more, I have been cleansed of the innumerable sins I have committed. And even more, by grace I have been given the power to live set free from the chains of the sin of my past. Through Jesus, I am doing just that, and being set more and more free everyday.

I am both the worst sinner I know and loved with an efficacious love. I believe that if we all can hold onto both of these truths we will be more likely to call out evil in the world. If we know we are evil, then we do not need to be afraid of someone calling out the evil in us because they will not be shocking us with their tales. If we know we are loved, we do not need to be afraid of someone calling out the evil in us because we know we are accepted despite our evil.

Call out evil in the world. Perhaps people will be less inclined to go through with destructive behavior if they know those close to them will call them on it. Perhaps not. At the least, to call out evil is to speak truth about something people are probably lying to themselves about. To call out evil is to be a light in dark places. There is no need to be afraid of letting that light shine on you too.

Jeremiah 28: God will reveal what’s true

May 13, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s been a while. Instead of blogging I’ve been working on other writing projects, or at least opening up the documents and staring at them blankly. I need my brain to do something else for a while I hope. Blog posts are kind of nice because they are self-contained units of thought and I don’t have to be concerned about what I want to write a hundred pages from now. Alright. Ramble over.

Jeremiah 28.2-4
Hananiah speaking –
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house… I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, declares the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”

Jeremiah 28.6-9

and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. Yet hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

So, as I’m sure you’ll remember from 10 months ago, in the last chapter Jeremiah put a wooden yoke around his neck to represent the Babylonian takeover and exile of the Israelites. A yoke is used on people and cattle so that they labor more efficiently, specifically for the purpose of carrying a heavy weight. The implication of the yoke is that Israel will be subjected to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon and he will be their ruler, making them to bear his burdens and labor to his benefit. Hananiah says that God declares that this yoke will be broken in a couple years while Jeremiah has been saying that if things stay the same, Israel will be subjected to the yoke of Babylon for 70 years.

Hananiah is working against Jeremiah with his prophecies. Hananiah is countering Jeremiah’s message of the coming wrath of God through Babylon by telling the people of Israel not to be overly concerned because it won’t last long. Throughout Jeremiah’s prophetic career, he has been warning of the coming takeover and exile by foreign powers because of the sin of Israel and has been met with opposition from others who claim that everything will be fine. Hananiah is just another example among many in the book of Jeremiah of a respected person in Israel who will tell Israel what they want to hear rather than what is true.

Jeremiah knows that Israel needs to hear the truth and believe that the sin of Judah has removed God’s hand of protection from them, and as a result Babylon’s intentions of taking over Israel will be successful. At first, it was important for the people in Jerusalem to believe this so they could turn from their sinful ways so that God would turn back toward His people and save them from the encroaching armies. Then, after the point of no return, it was important for Israel to believe the message of Jeremiah so they could prepare for their exile, understand how they were to live during the period of their exile, and have hope for a return to their land. Obviously being exiled is not desirable and therefore difficult to convince people of, especially when there are others who are trying to convince people that everything is fine.

It must be incredibly frustrating for Jeremiah when Hananiah comes in and contradicts his message. Given the frustrating circumstance, Jeremiah’s response is surprising. He doesn’t argue with Hananiah. He doesn’t yell at him or debate the point. Jeremiah doesn’t even reaffirm his own prophesies. Quite the opposite. He basically says, “I hope you’re right. I hope God does what you say He is going to do. God will make it clear whether your words are true or false soon enough.” Jeremiah doesn’t need to prove that Hananiah is a false prophet.

God does that for him. Later on in the chapter, God declares that since Hananiah declared the people of Judah will be back in two years, not only will that not come to pass, but Hananiah will be dead before the end of one year. Hananiah won’t even be around to see whether he was right. Then Hananiah died.

Jeremiah didn’t have to prove to everyone he heard from God. Jeremiah was not required to act out against those who were undermining his ministry. Jeremiah wasn’t required to counter every argument those who disagreed with him put forth. Jeremiah was given God’s words and asked to speak them. It was God’s job to reveal the truth of His word. And God did, ironically using a false prophet who was spreading lies to substantiate the truthfulness of the prophet Jeremiah.

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