Jeremiah 11:14; 12:15-16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.” . . .  “After I have uprooted them, I will again have compassion on them; and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land. Then if they will really learn the ways of My people, . . .  they will be built up in the midst of My people.”

Observation: Jeremiah here continued his prophetic description of the well-deserved destruction God was about to visit upon His people. But tucked within this string of gloomy chapters is a different message, one of hope and divine strategy. God told Jeremiah not to pray or lift up a cry for the people, for He had determined not to listen when their desperate circumstances caused them to cry out to Him. But He went on to say that if they really would turn to Him, if their cry became not just an appeal for rescue so they could go back into sinful ways but a true change of heart, He would have compassion on them and build them up again.

Application:These verses are a rich vein of gold for a variety of relationships where we feel responsible for those determined not to be responsible.This is a “tough love” passage, and God was saying there does indeed come a time when we ought not to pray as we formerly did for someone in determined rebellion. We should simply release that loved one to the well-deserved disciplines of God. After all, we know about His nature. Not only is He just, but He is also compassionate. The deepening pain into which we must sometimes allow our loved one to descend is used by God to be the very instrument for redemption and restoration. God intends this as kindness, as it is a dim glimmer of the total aloneness and eternal abandonment to darkness that must be faced if true repentance does not come.

We must always remember that every descent into darkness comes with a rope attached, a way of ascent. But we must be certain that the rope is in God’s hands, not ours. We must be willing to release fully to God every decision as to who handles the rope. Otherwise, our tendency is to stop the descent every foot or two. Thinking we are being merciful, we may instead be preventing our loved one’s access to the very tools and strategies God has lovingly prepared to bring back this one whom He, and we, love so much.

Prayer:  Father, my hands bear the marks of rope burns. Forgive me. Keep me increasing in purity as I live life before my loved ones, but prevent me, Lord, from trying to do what You want to be allowed to do in their lives.