“But of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” —Jeremiah 30:11
Like a lot of people, I’m in worse physical shape than I should be. I eat too much of the wrong stuff, and I don’t move as much as I need to. So I’m always on the search for a workout habit that will really stick. And that means that I’m pretty often trying new routines and exercises I haven’t done much of lately. And, at my age, that means that I inevitably end up quite sore or, more troublingly, a little bit injured. Which, in turn, makes me not want to stick to the routine, even if I know the soreness and injuries will resolve themselves quickly and the exercise routine would have important long-lasting benefits.
I do want to get healthier, but I don’t want to experience the consequences of being out of shape now.
Much of the prophetic writing in the Old Testament is basically God saying to Israel, “There are real consequences to how unhealthy you’ve gotten. I’m never giving up on you, but it’s going to hurt a lot getting from where you are right now to where you need to be.” The words spoken through Jeremiah in today’s text are an example of this. God is saying, “I’m not going to destroy you, but that doesn’t mean you will go unpunished.”
It’s hard for me to persevere through the sore muscles and joints to move toward health. And it’s hard for us to remember that God disciplines us because he cares about us. Sometimes we want to b transformed, but we don’t want the journey from here to there.
The good news is that God walks alongside us throughout that journey, even carrying us if need be. The promise never to give up on us—just as he’s never given up on his people Israel—means we have nothing, ultimately, to fear. God will bring us through the pain caused by our own lack of health and wholeness, all the way to real, full, eternal, abundant life.