“My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we will come,” the people reply, “for you are the LORD our God.” - Jeremiah 3:22
Untreated, heart disease can prove fatal. Symptoms of the disease are not always apparent. Superb athletes, apparently fine specimens of health and vigor, have been known to collapse and expire in the midst of the stadium. Tanned and well muscled, highly trained and conditioned, they had given every indication of being in the best of health. But they were unaware of the silent killer—undiagnosed, untreated heart disease.
There is another killer heart disease that can go undetected. Only God, the great physician, can unerringly diagnose the condition, as he did in ancient Judah. They suffered from “wayward heart” disorder (3:22). Judah gave every outward indication of being in good spiritual health. Like their sister Israel, Judah had been unfaithful to the Lord, but they had professed to return to him in repentance. Yet they had “only pretended to be sorry” (3:10).
The northern kingdom, Israel, was much more blatant about her behavior. She was utterly faithless and made no secret of it; it was obvious she was sick. But Judah was like a tanned, well-conditioned athlete with a sick heart—outwardly in great shape, inwardly at risk. God’s concern was evident when he compared the two and said, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah” (3:11).
Fortunately, there is hope for those who are sick from a wayward heart, because God not only diagnoses the condition, he offers healing. “Come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts,” he promises (3:22). For Judah to do this required a great degree of honesty—they had to admit that they had only been pretending allegiance to the Lord. By contrast, the northern kingdom simply had to confess their obvious waywardness and turn from their wicked ways.
The healing of a wayward heart can only be done by the Lord, and only when men and women crave his healing touch. The Great Physician stands willing and able to heal, but the patient must be ready and willing to present himself for surgery—to respond to the Lord’s invitation, “Come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” So whether our symptoms are overt or hidden, we need to search our heart for signs of waywardness. We need to stop pretending and offer ourselves to his healing touch. The surgery may be unpleasant, the recovery painful. But the healing is deep and profound, and robust spiritual health is the result.
For Further Study: Jeremiah 3:6-25