How Bitter (Jeremiah 4:18)

“Your ways and your deeds
Have brought these things to you.
This is your evil. How bitter!
How it has touched your heart!”

Jeremiah 4:18

We, believer and non-believer alike, often find ourselves wanting to blame our misfortune on someone or something else. We try to blame anything but ourselves — our upbringing, our temperament, our genetics, bad luck, oppression. The truth is that some of these things may be very real obstacles we need to overcome, but when our lives are receiving the payment for the wrongs we have done, there is nothing and no one else to blame but ourselves.

God said to those who were in rebellion that their rebellion against Him had brought the calamities on their heads. And God was (and still is) in the best position to know a thing like that.

When certain aspects of life are challenging; when it feels like God’s favor has departed from me; when everything seems to be going sideways, let me examine myself and see if it is not my own wrongdoing that has brought those circumstances on my head. It may be that I have done nothing, as was the case with Job. It may be that God is allowing something tragic so that I turn to Him for comfort and can then turn and comfort others with that same comfort given to me, as Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. Not every bad circumstance is due to sin in my life, but some will be and I need to recognize those for what they are and repent of the sin that brought them.

Life is challenging in many ways right now. In some cases, the difficulties have nothing to do with action or inaction on my part. Those difficulties are not what God is talking about in this verse. In other instances, the challenges are incidental to other parts of life in progress – just par for the course of life. Those are likewise not what God is addressing in this verse. There are challenges that can be traced back to decisions I made; decisions to do what God commanded I not do. Those difficulties are the ones God is addressing. And I heartily agree with God — This [my] your evil. How bitter! How it has touched [my] heart!

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