September 25, 2020
Seeking to be Faithful in Confusing Times

By Rev. Erin Noh
“For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm,
to give you a future with hope”.
Jeremiah 29:10-11
In cognitive psychology, there is a concept called “confirmation bias,” which describes how bias and desires can influence beliefs. It occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. For example, when certain people want something to be true, they turn to wishful thinking. When this happens, they stop gathering truth and embrace whatever confirms their wishful thinking, thus, rejecting whatever brings doubt. There are other people who believe their way is the best way, then they look for anything and everything that confirms it.
Confirmation bias is manifested in the life of the ancient Israelites. The prophet Jeremiah received information that false prophets in Babylon were preaching to the Israelites that Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, would act quickly against Babylon, but Jeremiah’s message was of Yahweh’s coming judgment. The Israelites chose to believe the words of false prophets who told them exactly what they wanted to hear. They wanted to believe that God would destroy their captor and bring them back home quickly, operating with an attitude that caused their desires to overshadow God’s truth delivered by Jeremiah. They embraced what validated their belief and rejected the message from God.

Psalm 119 reminds us that the Word of God is fixed in the heavens (v. 89); it does not change, and there is no limit to its perfection (v. 96); it contains nothing corrupt. God is always speaking, every day, in every place, and in every situation. God speaks through Scripture, through preachers and teachers, through family and friends, through science and learning, and even through enemies. God speaks through the circumstances of our lives, and no matter what is happening in the world, the Word of God reigns. So, as we journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, let us not strive to “hear what we want to hear” but “listen for the truth.” It was God’s truth that the ancient Israelites failed to hear back in the day of Jeremiah. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” We seek to do God’s will and hear God’s word because God’s word is full of grace and truth.

Whatever God is speaking in our hearts, even when it does not match what we want or expect, let us live with hope in the Word of God. “For surely [God] know the plans He has for us, … plans for our welfare and not for harm, to give us a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Heavenly Father, I will praise You for Your sovereign goodness over my life.
Even when life is hard, help us to trust in Your Word and hold onto the hope You give us for the future. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009