I love the words of Jeremiah 17:9-10 because when I find myself in extended turmoil, I am often not fully aware of the source of my frustration. I don’t like to admit that I often have a self-centered, sinful, and deceitful heart. But because we live in a fallen world, my heart can be deceptive at times.
I bring Jeremiah 17:9-10 into my prayers when I can’t figure out what is frustrating me. My prayers in those times are often, “God, I can’t figure out why I am feeling this way or why am I thinking these thoughts,” or “Lord, why am I acting this way? I know there is something wrong, but I don’t have the slightest idea what is causing it.” Sometimes I do know what my problem is, but I am not ready to admit it and take responsibility for it.
When I pray through these verses from Jeremiah 17, I find that God may be showing me a part of my life that I have been neglecting, or I discover a new truth that God is teaching me. On occasions when I feel that I know what is causing my frustration and unrest, God often shows me that the root cause is something entirely different. Sometimes God reveals to me that I’ve been lax and have forgotten to implement a truth God has shown me. Through God’s word and guidance, I have found freedom from guilt.
When I have sought God’s advice, I have even found pleasant surprises at times. I recall feeling extremely guilty because our family was going to take a costly vacation one year. I felt the money might be better spent by donating it to a worthy cause. Struggling with my guilt and yet knowing that my family wanted to take the vacation, I cried out to God. God assured me that the vacation was God’s plan for our family. And the vacation was one of the most uplifting and memorable trips that our family ever took.
In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read that God’s ways and thoughts are far greater than ours, and only God knows them. But it’s not just my thoughts that are in question, it’s also my motives. I can be doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. Or I can be doing all the wrong things for the right reasons. Sometimes the things we do are well intended, but they end up causing harm.
Because God knows better than I do, it’s evident I need God’s guidance in every aspect of my life. I need to confess to God that not everything I desire is right. I have discovered that God often wants more for me than I could ever imagine. That is why I need to come to God when I am confused. I can confess that I don’t know my heart and that I need God’s help in discerning the true cause of my frustrations.
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”