When No One Is Watching: May It Be So

Jeremiah 12: 1-4

You will be in the right, O Lord,
when I lay charges against you;
but let me put my case to you.
Why does the way of the guilty prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and bring forth fruit;
you are near in their mouths
yet far from their hearts.
But you, O Lord, know me;
You see me and test me—my heart is with you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn,
and the grass of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who live in it
the animals and the birds are swept away,
and because people said, “He is blind to our ways.”


What are we willing to do when we think that no one is watching? Would we steal? Lie? Or commit even more egregious sins? How do we reconcile our innate human covetous nature with our desire to live in a life that is pleasing to God? Do we only act morally when we think God is watching? Like those who feel guilty about sins on Sunday morning (as if God is only paying attention on Sundays), we have convinced ourselves that God has stopped listening to our prayers. For many of us that makes it easier to do things we aren’t proud of—things we know are wrong.

Jeremiah begins addressing God as if in a court room. He accuses God of turning a blind eye. Because of the absence of God’s direct attention, so much of humanity has proved to be unfaithful. He asks God many of the same questions that litter our minds: Why do the guilty prosper? How can we be expected to act justly if others are not? Why bother?

The questions are difficult, but their asking is crucial. Prayer is a place for all of these questions. Thanks be to God for the difficult questions, the difficult answers, and the work we do in waiting.


Here’s a prayer for today:

Dear God, help me to live in your ways; even when no one is watching. Be near me always. Amen.



Today’s devotional comes from Immanuel member Liz Pruchnicki.