As the children’s song goes, God leads us “little by little, inch by inch”. God knows us better than we know ourselves and God works in our lives in such a way that He uses our present challenges to prepare us for tomorrow’s victories. He brings us along as toddling “babes in Christ” and gradually works in us a maturity so that we go from toddling to running this Christian life. God knows what we can handle at each step along the way and stretches us without breaking us through the trials of life
Jeremiah was learning such a lesson in chapters 11-12. Jeremiah was facing the challenges of life. We see him asking God questions about his current situation. Jeremiah felt that he was surrounded by the pressure from his enemies who desired to take his life. He saw himself as “…a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter…” (11:19a). Jeremiah’s enemies wanted to destroy him and “…cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered” (11:19b). In chapter 12, Jeremiah came to God asking Him the age-old question- “…Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?…(v. 1). Jeremiah was suffering in his present condition, while his enemies were seeming to prosper. God answered Jeremiah in vv. 5-6 with a profound answer. Instead of directly answering Jeremiah’s question, God encouraged Jeremiah to see his present circumstance as a preparation for future victory. God said: “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of the Jordan?” (v. 5). Jeremiah was in a challenging situation likened to race with footmen. Jeremiah had to exert himself both spiritually and mentally as he dealt with the persecution from his fellow villagers at Anathoth. Yet, God asked him a profound question. If Jeremiah couldn’t run with footman (deal with the small challenge), then how could he ever contend (run) with horses (deal with a greater challenge)? As Jeremiah learned to trust God in his smaller challenges, God would prepare him for the greater challenges ahead. If Jeremiah was wearied in the land of peace (small challenges), then how would he ever stand in the swelling of the Jordan (greater challenges)?
God knew that He had great plans for the life of Jeremiah. Yet Jeremiah had to be trained “little by little” for the greater challenges that he would soon face only by learning to trust in God through the smaller challenges.
How do you see your present challenges? Do you see them as obstacles that keep you from serving God? Or do you see them from God’s vantage point as preparatory steps that are training you for greater service to God? Have you learned to “run with footman”? If not, how can you “run with horses”?