“Therefore, this is what the LORD says, ‘I will put obstacles in My people’s path.’” Jeremiah 6:21 (NLT)
If you’re like me, you may view obstacles as annoying distractions that hinder you from getting where you want to go, like unwanted detours that make your journey longer. It wasn’t until I read this passage from Jeremiah that I began to reconsider how I view obstacles. Jeremiah was given a message from God for the people of Judah. The message sounds counterintuitive and strange at first. He said that the obstacles in their path were put there BY GOD! What is up with that? Why would God put obstacles in His own people’s path? Then it struck me. Perhaps the obstacles before us were put there by God to get our attention, to draw us back to Him, to seek Him and redirect our way back to His path.
In verse 16 of that same chapter in Jeremiah, the Bible says,
“This is what the LORD says, ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old and Godly way and walk in it. Travel its path; and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’”
Maybe you’re at a crossroads in life. If so, you’re in a good place. Stop for a moment. Look around. Consider carefully which path you will take. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12,
“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”
In Psalm 1, the Bible clearly describes two paths every man may take. One leads to life and blessing, and the other is a dead end. How can we avoid the wrong path? Look at the counsel God gives in Jeremiah 6:16 again.
“… Ask for the old and Godly way and walk in it. Travel its path; and you will find rest for your souls.”
Unfortunately, the people to whom Jeremiah spoke responded as so many do today, “No, that’s not the road we want!” Then, in verse 21, he explains to them why God put obstacles in their path. Those obstacles that, at first, seem so frustrating and annoying were really blessings in disguise! They were the loving hindrances of God to prevent them from continuing down a dead-end street, giving them opportunity to turn around, to redirect.
I love the way God puts it in Jeremiah 8, when He tells Jeremiah to say to the people,
“This is what the LORD says, ‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back? Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lives and will not turn around.” (Vs. 4-5)
We read that and can’t help but think, that’s just dumb! If you’re going the wrong way, surely you would turn around! Yet, how often have we faced the obstacles in our path with the same disposition? We are so determined to get where we want to go that we fail to consider those obstacles as blessings in disguise. Perhaps God is using them to speak to us about the path we are on. Is it His path? If not, there’s hope! There’s time to stop, look around, ask for direction and get on the path God has for you. His path leads to peace!