“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses?
“And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5).
This passage is part of God’s response to the disgruntled prophet Jeremiah when he bursts into God’s presence and blatantly asks Him why He is allowing the wicked to prosper, even though they have not been faithful to Him and they have rejected Jeremiah’s warnings.
Using two metaphors, God deflects the prophet’s dissatisfaction in an attempt to get him to examine himself. God asks: if you are so distraught over running with the footmen or wading in peaceful waters, how upset will you be when you have to keep up with the horses or survive the devastating floods of the Jordan?
A lesson we can learn is that life doesn’t always work out the way we expect and we have to deal with it positively. If we allow the smaller, less drastic situations to discourage us, and perhaps even drive us away from God, how can we ever expect to survive spiritually when deeply disturbing situations come our way?
Serious situations like financial disaster, personal or family tragedy, devasting illnesses can discourage us. As a child of God, we have to build a faith that is strong enough to survive even the most severe circumstances.
“If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).
Life is not always laid out for us in a smoothly-wrapped package. The reality is that life can have wrinkles. Sometimes these wrinkles are small and only somewhat annoying, but sometimes the wrinkles are big ones that make our package look surprisingly messy.
Wrinkles represent adversities in our lives. So, what do we do when adversity comes along? The preacher here tells us how not to react. We are not to allow adversity to defeat us because such action indicates weakness.
Rather, hopefully, we allow our reasonable, logical self to take over: we assess what has happened, give attention to the part of the package where we find wrinkles, and take steps to smooth them out.
In doing so, we rise up from the ashes of a discouraging situation and use the lessons learned to become a better, stronger Christian. We allow ourselves to be empowered by the challenges the adversity presents to us, and we show our strength of faith by meeting the difficulties positively.