Jeremiah 31:9 “They will come with weeping;
they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water
on a level path where they will not stumble.”
There is a very interesting difference between the Japanese and the English here. The NIV says, “they will pray as I bring them back,” but the Japanese says, “I will comfort them as I bring them back.” The Japanese seems to fit the context better, but I certainly like the image of God’s people praying! That aside, there is plenty of meaning in the rest of the verse that both languages agree on. The first point is that there will be weeping. Whether these are tears of repentance, tears of joy, or tears from some other impulse is not specified. The path God leads us on is not always jolly! However, tears are not something to be afraid of. They are not “unmanly.” Another thing that strikes me is that, even with tears, God can be trusted with the path. “Beside streams of water” indicates that our needs will be met. In a dry climate, running out of water isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be fatal. This isn’t talking about an occasional oasis, it’s talking about continuous supply. The third point that comes across to me is that God will keep us from stumbling. When you’re tired enough, you can stumble over your own feet! God will smooth the path as much as necessary, and we have His promise that we will not stumble.
There have been times when fear of stumbling has kept me from moving forward, and I think that’s what God’s addressing to me right now. I am painfully aware that my own wisdom and insight are insufficient in themselves, but I have God’s promise that I won’t stumble. Life is certainly a series of challenges, and I handle some of them better than others. The issue is not how well I did on the last one, but that God will be with me for the next one, and He’s not abandoned me in the one I am dealing with right now. I am reminded yet again of Andrae Crouch’s song, Through It All: “And if I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He could solve them; I wouldn’t know what faith in God can do.” The Bible is filled with assurances that God will never leave us or forsake us, so just as I encourage others to do, I need to look at God more than I look at the challenges.
Father, thank You for this Word. It’s really a reminder, because I’ve known these things from Your Word for a long time. Help me be bold in my obedience to You, accepting Your “course corrections” but not hanging back for fear of the road ahead. May I as an individual and this church as a body move forward at Your speed on the course You have planned for us, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled in and through us on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!