Jeremiah 33:5-6 in the fight with the Babylonians: “They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness. ‘“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
When things are going well in our lives we can say that “God’s face” is shining upon us. His favor is with us. When there are prolonged periods of darkness it can feel like God has hidden his face. We can’t hide from God but he can hide his face from us.
The thing that makes God hide his face is our wickedness. Sometimes when I take my wife to the movies inevitably there’s a scene so troubling that she hides her face because she can’t bear to see it. I think that is how God sees the world sometimes only he doesn’t turn away from our plight he turns away from our decision to disobey him.
Some of the darkness we are experiencing in our city through violence, crime, and poverty is because of our own wickedness. It’s not that God doesn’t want to help he’s just waiting for us to get rid of our idols and our wickedness.
The world’s wicked problems crowd us like piranha: pollution, overpopulation, dwindling of natural resources, global warming, global poverty, global crime, global disease, technological warfare, and a lopsided distribution of power that has failed to address massive ignorance or Third World hunger (Neumeier 2009: 1).
The way we deal with wicked problems is to pray, turn from our wicked ways and then:
1. God will hear from heaven. God is waiting for us to turn from our wicked ways so he can listen again. Our lips are moving but our hearts are far from him. When we turn our hearts back to God then God will hear what’s coming out of our lips.
2. God will bring health and healing to the land. God wants to solve our wicked problems if we turn back and not turn our backs to him. The same places that were desolate God wants to restore if we would just come out of our wicked ways.
3. God will let us live in abundant peace and safety. It is possible to have a city with low crime, safe streets, and peaceful communities when we get people connected back to life as God intended it to be.
God is waiting for us to tackle these wicked problems with God led solutions; mentors, after school programs, helping elementary students read, wellness centers, workforce development, community policing, justice reform. But all of this is contingent to us no longer turning our backs on God so that he will turn his face back toward us and this city. Seek God’s face and not just his hand.
We need your face to shine on this city. Please don’t forget about those of your children who still love you. None of us have been perfect but we need you Lord. Deliver us from this darkness of violence and help us to get rid of wickedness that creates a suffocating darkness. Instead let us turn on the lights of a righteous life lived out for all to see. Today may you be pleased with the way that we live so that you can begin the healing process in our city.
In Jesus Name,