One of the hardest things to do as a Christian is to ignore the lies that God only wants to make you happy. That He is some genie who delivers on every wish. The Enemy definitely wants people to believe that because of the inevitable fallout. I can say with full authority of experience, God doesn’t care about your personal happiness. In fact, since I became a Christian eight years ago, life became more difficult. Sure, it could have been easier to stop and go back to my own life in which the goals were to simply experience bliss at all times, but I would be missing out on something so much greater.
There’s a difference between happiness and true joy that comes from God. It’s like when you’re training for something, let’s say a marathon, you work you butt off to finish, right? You dedicate precious time to the discipline of running and you change your diet, and really, you change so much about your life to accomplish this goal. There are days in which you are so sore from the constant workout and beatings you’ve taken but it doesn’t matter because the feeling of passing that finish line is worth it. There is such joy when you’re done that it discounts all the pain you felt for the previous months.
The Apostle Paul even likened faith to a race:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
So hard things do happen in the Christian walk, but they are precious like gemstones and they will create in you a beautiful piece of art that reflects the Grace and Love of God.
So why do I bring this up? Jeremiah 27. God tells the prophet Jeremiah to warn the people of Judah that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is coming to conquer them, including taking the sacred items from the Temple. He tells them that they must concede or else they will experience the sword, famine, and pestilence. They must serve Babylon.
If I was Jeremiah I would definitely not want to share that to the people of Judah. Nobody wants to be conquered. It’s the equivalent of Russia or North Korea conquering America and prophets in our nation saying we must serve them because it’s God’s Will. We would think they are crazy and that God is mean. No way would God do this to us! Oh, Prosperity Gospel and God in a Bottle Theology, He is so much greater and more complicated than that.
But what is the most important part of this passage – one we can easily miss if we only concentrate on ourselves — who is the hero in this story? What is this story actually about? It’s about God. He’s the hero. He is in full control. He warns Judah, he protects them, he knows the end-game — sure, you can serve Babylon now but soon you will have your own Kingdom. God is faithful. He keeps His promises. When times are hard remember who you are serving. He’s a good God.
The last line, which I made into an illustration above thanks to YouVersion, states:
They shall be carried to Babylon and remain there until the day when I visit them, declares the LORD. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.” (Jeremiah 27:22 ESV)
God keeps His promises. In 587 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar did conquer Jerusalem but then in 538-535 the Israelites returned to Jerusalem. They were restored.
So, yes bad things do happen. Life isn’t perfect. Pain occurs. But we serve a God who is bigger than our pain, bigger than our bad moments, and who is absolutely perfect. Trials come. We are sharpened. We run this race and we finish it. I will hold onto the promise of God found in Jesus Christ – the one of redemption, of life, and of eternity with Him because He’s proven to be faithful.