"Yet I would speak with you about your justice."

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 10; 11; 12 - Listen

Life just isn't fair. Bad things happen to "good" people and good things happen to "bad" people. Good deeds often go unrewarded and bad deeds often go unpunished. People even suffer for doing what is right. Why does God allow such injustice?

Persecuted for preaching the truth, Jeremiah voices a similar concern. "You are always righteous, O 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, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you…" (12:1-3a).

God answers with questions: "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" (12:5).

God is putting us through rigorous training, to develop in us the endurance, skill and experience necessary to stay on our feet and forge ahead whenever life gets difficult. "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" (Pr. 24:10). All these hard times are for strengthening our spiritual muscles, so that we won't faint or fall away when we face life's most tiring and challenging circumstances.

As for the wicked and faithless, though they may appear to have it easy now, God assures us that judgment is coming (12:7-17). Because God's compassion always outlives his anger, however, he promises to give even his enemies another chance. "'But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to his own inheritance and his own country. And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, 'As surely as the Lord lives'--even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal--then they will be established among my people. But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,' declares the Lord" (12:15-17).

I have faced many times of trouble - some for "endurance training," some for judgment, some for who-knows-what. Tested and uprooted, I sometimes felt that God had forgotten or discarded me. Though I trusted in God's sovereignty, I questioned his justice. But God used those times to humble me, to build my faith, and to help me "learn well" the ways of the Lord. Having compassion on me, he wrapped me in his arms as I struggled through the pain. Each time, he made me stronger and more equipped to handle the next challenge.

God has set his joy before us, having personally demonstrated the very things he is teaching us, so that we "will not grow weary and lose heart" as we "run the race with perseverance" (Heb. 12:1-3). When we reach the finish line, may we say, with Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7 KJV).