You Can’t Handle the Truth

This week in my devotions I was reading in the book of Jeremiah.  Now if you have never read Jeremiah, it is not an easy book to read.  It is a bit of a downer.  Jeremiah was a prophet of the Lord and God gave him a lot of bad news to share with the people of Judah.  He prophesied about things like the destruction of Jerusalem, exile, and captivity.  Not very good news.  Even one of the most well-known verses from Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11),  comes as part of a letter to the exiles where Jeremiah is telling them to be patient and get comfortable where they are at, because they are going to remain in exile for 70 years. 

But the people didn’t want to hear what Jeremiah had to say.  He was threatened, put in prison, beaten, and even thrown into a cistern.   One of the passages that really stood out to me comes from Jeremiah 43:1-3a “When Jeremiah finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God — everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are lying!'”

Now obviously one of the lessons we should learn from this passage is the faithfulness of Jeremiah in following the Lord even in spite of such opposition and such a difficult task, but instead I want to remind us of what we also can learn from the other side of the story.

Notice that the people called Jeremiah a liar.  Why?  Simply because they didn’t want to hear the message that he was bringing.  But truth is truth regardless of whether or not we like it.  Sometimes we need to hear tough things.  The truth is not always good news.  Sometimes it is painful and hard. 

There is a movie called “A Few Good Men.”  In that movie Jack Nicholson plays a colonel who is called as a witness in a trial.  He is being questioned by Tom Cruise who plays a JAG lawyer.  At one point in the questioning Cruise says he wants the truth and Nicholson tells him that he doesn’t want the truth and that he can’t handle the truth.

Is that true with us?  Do we say we want the truth, but in reality we really don’t want to hear the truth?  Maybe God has been speaking to you.  Maybe He has been trying to tell you some truth that you don’t want to hear.  My challenge is to be willing to hear the truth regardless of how easy it is to take.  Don’t close yourself off to bad news, or tough criticism, or strong rebuke if it comes from God.  The people of Judah needed to be disciplined.  They needed to learn a lesson.  They had strayed from God and that is why God allowed them to be exiled.  But Jeremiah 29:11 was still true as well.  God did know the plans He had for them and ultimately it was for their good.  And it is the same with us.  God knows what He is doing.  Trust Him and let Him help you to handle the truth.