I have been reading for the past few months in the book of Jeremiah, which is not necessarily a favorite of mine. So much of the book of Jeremiah is about destruction, judgement, disobedience, captivity, etc. that it is not a very uplifting portion of the Bible to read. It can actually be quite discouraging. As I was reading, about halfway through I had to ask the Lord, "Why in the world do you have me reading this? What does this all mean for me?" And then I saw it.
"The days are coming' declares the Lord, 'when I will bring my people back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess,' says the Lord."
"I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing."
Jer, 30:3 and 18-19
As you read the book of Jeremiah, much of the writings are devoted to telling of the wrath and justice of God. After all, He is a righteous judge, and must act justly towards His disobedient children. But to me, the beauty of this book is in the moments interwoven with the punishment and justice where you see the heart of a Father shining through- the ultimate desire for restoration.
We, like the Israelites, are disobedient children. We wander from the truth God has plainly set before us, and because of that, we face calamity and destruction. The human race endures much pain and suffering simply because we choose to live by our own rules rather than the Word of God. And we, like the Israelites, have to endure the consequences of our disobedience and the disobedience of our ancestors. At times, we might look around us at all the destruction and ask the Lord, "Why in the world do you have me living in this? What does all this mean for me?" When all along, the Father's heart is yearning for one thing- restoration.
God longs to restore us to a relationship with Him. He does not desire for us to suffer. It is not His pleasure for us to face calamity or pain. His heart breaks for His children who are in captivity to sin. He does not delight in punishing the disobedient. It is simply a necessary part of the process to lead us toward His ultimate desire- restoring us to Him as His children. Whatever it takes to bring us back to God, that is what He will do. However far we must stray and however long we must suffer, He endures the agony of it all with the hope and promise of restoration. The Father loves us, and His love is always, always drawing us towards Himself.
After I came to this revelation, I continued reading the book of Jeremiah, anxiously looking for glimpses of the promise of restoration. Rather than focusing on the pain and destruction, I rejoiced at the heart of the Father to be in a restored relationship with His children. And in the midst of it all, I saw myself- an often disobedient and headstrong child who is constantly stubbing my toes and experiencing pain because I refuse to follow the path I know God has chosen for me. Yet there my Heavenly Father stands with arms open wide, whispering to me just as he did to His chosen people in Jeremiah;
"Return to me, my child. I will wipe away your tears and heal your heart. When you call upon me, I will hear you. And you will be restored."