Yet you know me, Lord;
you see me and test my thoughts about you. – Jeremiah 12:3
Physics and Economics. Those were the two classes in high school that I have no clue how I passed. The day-to-day memories are fuzzy now, but what I recall about each of these classes is how embarrassingly in-the-dark I felt most of the time. I always felt steps behind, like I’d missed an essential memo or something, but had to forge ahead anyway. I somehow got by, but always with fingers crossed.
If I could give my 17-year-old self one piece of academic advice, it would be this: ask the teacher to help you understand. Come in before or after school and ask questions! It seems so obvious now, but at the time, that option never even occurred to me. Something within me felt embarrassed that I didn’t understand. And I simply didn’t see the student-teacher relationship in those terms. But asking for help would have made all the difference for me.
When it comes to talking with God, do you ever forget you can ask questions? Like…real questions? Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t have questions in the first place?
The prophet Jeremiah faced massive confusion. The world around him was falling apart. He was uncertain of his purpose. He felt betrayed by the people closest to him. Tough times were ahead. In Chapter 12, Jeremiah brings his confusion, his questions, even his complaints, directly to God. Take a look at the first three verses of this chapter. Jeremiah says…
You are always righteous, Lord,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me, Lord;
you see me and test my thoughts about you.
I appreciate the earnesty with which Jeremiah addresses God. He’s saying, “Lord, I know you’re good, and that’s why I’m so bewildered at what’s going on. What I know about you and what I see around me don’t add up. Why do things work this way? Make sense of it for me. You know my thoughts. Make me understand.”
Sometimes I forget that my interaction with God is a dialogue. But Jeremiah shows us what it means to really, truly talk with God. He lays it all out there. He asks why. He says, I understand some things about you, but other things go right over my head.
A life of obeying God is not free of confusion. But Jeremiah reminds us that we can bring our confusion—even our confusion about God—directly to God. When we feel confused, we ask the Teacher to help us understand.