Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved,
for you are my praise.
— Jeremiah 17:14
Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible and it’s a tough emotional read. Jeremiah prophesies to a stubborn people. The Jews thought that they were pleasing to God, for they were part of His chosen people. However, God saw through their religious veneer to their hard hearts: “Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:10).
Sometimes being “religious” can actually make it harder to repent and truly return to God. Our outward spiritual deeds can make it appear that all is well between us and God. But the Father is looking for nothing less than our whole hearts. Is your whole heart loving God? Is the totality of your inner desire zeroed in on Him?
If not, our only recourse is to repent. But repentance can be difficult for “spiritual” people because we think we are already doing everything rightly before God. Here is where Jeremiah 17:4 helps us to rediscover the path to repentance.
Repentance is found in asking God to heal our hearts. Jeremiah prays, “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed.” (Jeremiah 17:14). Just a couple of lines previously, Jeremiah declares how crooked like the twig of a tree our own hearts really are: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Wow, what a dreadful statement about the condition of every human being.
That pronouncement about our sinful nature could lead us to depression or to fight again our own sinfulness. But Jeremiah knows that the journey to restoration is not discovered by mere regret or by wrestling against our own selves, but rather by gratefully and expectantly appealing to God’s help. He is eager to heal every sin-sick heart until we wholly love God from the inside out. Repentance is a gift!
Just as a leopard can’t change his spots (Jeremiah 13:23), we cannot change our evil hearts. We must take the road to repentance and ask for God’s intervention. Praise the name of the Lord, for there is a Great Physician, who heals soul and body!
O Father, You know that we are weak, but we know that You are stronger! Heal our own hearts first. Make us love You so much that nothing in this life comes close to our joy in You. Then, we ask that You will bring healing to all Your Church throughout our nation. We need a fresh move of Your Spirit that brings repentance and revival. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D.
Senior Associate, Christian Union Day and Night
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