“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, NKJV
The fact of the matter is this – God wants to use you to do a work for His kingdom. God has a special call over each and every life but all too often that call goes unfulfilled. One of the main reasons given is that it’s just too hard. With that, many give up on the pursuit of excellence and settle into the realm of mediocrity.
Life does get hard sometimes. Being a Christian is hard sometimes. Making it to the end of this race of faith gets hard sometimes, but here its as if God is saying, “If you can’t handle this little bit of stuff now, how can I use you for something greater? If you can’t pass the mid-term, how can I give you the final that will lead to graduation?”
This verse in Jeremiah reminds me of our Christian status here in the U.S. We have many controversies of the faith to deal with. Yet, and still, the “controversies” we may face pale in comparison to what others in far off lands are dealing with.
Some may even justify Jeremiah’s complaint and prayer to the Lord. He asked God, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1, NKJV). Isn’t that how we feel at times? Why is it that I am working so hard to maintain this faith when the wicked, who are not even thinking about God and eternity, prosper? It’s a question that has rolled off the tongue in prayer to God for centuries.
Then Jeremiah takes his prayer a step further. He asks God to, “. . . pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter,” (Jeremiah 12:3, NKJV). Whoa, partner! Hold on now. He out-and-out prayed for their destruction! Why did he do that? These men who are on the wrong side of this prayer were seeking to kill him and as we read this we get the sense that Jeremiah has had enough. If truth be told, many Christians, through trials and hardness if life, wonder how much more they can take. Raise your hand if you have been there \o/! While we may not pray for the destruction of people who come against us, we do feel the pressure of that breaking point.
But, instead of encouraging Jeremiah, God had a word of rebuke for him. “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?” The footmen are trained army guys. They run swift and they run strong. They are hard to fight against. Fighting against them in hand to hand battle can wear you out, provoking you to leave the fight in surrender. But, God asks Jeremiah, “If you can’t handle this, how can I take you to another level?” How can I get you in position to do and deal with greater things, to “contend with horses?” If you think trying to outrun a footmen was bad, try to outrun a horse; try to fight one mounted high on a horse. That’s when you know life and limb are at stake. That’s when you are really in the thick of it.
God posed another question, “And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of Jordan?” Have you ever seen a movie or a nature show where there are places with this little watering hole? Especially during the dry seasons when all the animals try to quench their thirst in this one little place. It kind of confines lions and other vicious animals to that one region. But, when the rains come and the water swells, those predators don’t have to venture so far in remote areas to drink. They can spread out as far as the waters can spread out. These enemies can then come closer to home.
We have many trials to contend with and as hard as it may seem sometimes, God is using it to strengthen us to be able to take on more. He is training us to “contend with horses” and to be able to survive the “swelling of the Jordan.” He wants to take us to another level, to be in a position to do more for Him and His kingdom. Our job is not to give up.
Jude 3 tells us, “Beloved, . . . it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” In other words, nobody is downplaying how hard life can be sometimes, but the exhortation is to not give up. This is something worth fighting for! God will eventually deal with the footmen and the horses; the lions and the swelling Jordan, but we still have to hold on and keep on fighting.
I’ll leave you with this encouragement from the apostle Paul, “And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us,” (2 Corinthians 1:7-10, KJV).
God, who is with us through it all, is great! Even when it feels that we are “pressed out of measure, above strength,” we still have God on the throne who is able to “deliver us.” So, don’t give up! You are being molded to do more – CONTEND WITH HORSES!