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As Word Based Counselors, we are often ask to speak into
a person's life during a season in which they are receiving the Lord's
chastening. This is because many people seek counseling at a time when
they are experiencing the consequences of willful disobedience to, or
prolonged disregard of, the Lord. From the book of Jeremiah, we can
learn how to help people respond during such times.
Jeremiah spoke to people who were
being chastened by God. The Israelites had gone "far from [God] and
walked after emptiness and became empty" (Jeremiah 2:5 NASV). "They forsook
God, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13 NASV). "My people have
forgotten Me days without number" (Jeremiah 2:32 NASV).
God warned them, "Your own wickedness
will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore
and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God"
(2:19 NASV). He called to them repeatedly to return (4:1 NASV), to circumcise
their hearts (4:4 NASV), and to wash themselves from evil (4:14 NASV).
But they "refused to repent" (5:3 NASV).
Therefore, God raised up Nebuchadnezzar to invade and besiege Judah and
Jerusalem. Many Israelites were deported to Babylon in captivity. But
some ran to Egypt to escape. And others remained in Jerusalem to fight
and resist the Babylonians, believing the false prophet's word that God
would break the yoke of the Babylonians within two years (28:2).
Like bad figs, those who resisted and those who ran
away from God's chastening felt the full power of
God's anger. "I will abandon...the remnant...who remain in this land,
and the ones who dwell in...Egypt. I will make them a terror and an
evil...a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse..." (24:8-9
But concerning those who accepted and
yielded to the yoke of God's chastening, God said, "Like these good
figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah...For I will set my
eyes on them for good...and I will give them a heart to know Me, for I
am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for
they will return to Me with their whole heart (Jeremiah 24:5-7 NASV).
Clearly, those who are experiencing
God's chastisement must turn in humility to wait on God, allowing Him to
deal with them as He tears down and replaces their sin with
righteousness. But running and resisting are futile. It is better
to come to the place in our lives where we can genuinely rejoice and
say, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy
statutes" (Psalm 119:71 NASV).
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