I’m pretty sure if I was Jeremiah, I would have given up. There he was, trying to be obedient and speak the words God has given him for the people of Judah. Sure they were not exactly comforting words; he was pronouncing God’s judgment on the people, trying and trying to get them to come back to their King of Kings. He was describing their coming captivity in Babylon and God’s anger poured out. This wasn’t just a message for a few days, a few weeks even. Jeremiah was at this for years and years. People wouldn’t listen, they threw him out and beat him up and put him in stocks.
At one point, Jeremiah had just about had enough. Here’s what he told God: “Oh, Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived, you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of The Lord has brought me me insult and reproach all day long.” (Jeremiah 20:7-8)
Whoa, talk about an honest conversation with God! We might think, “Wait a minute there, Jeremiah, who do you think you are, talking to God like that?” But let’s be real, maybe we haven’t said those exact words to God, but perhaps something similar. My version tends to go like this. “Seriously, God? THIS is happening?”
But Jeremiah wasn’t done. “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name’, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in, indeed I cannot” (verse 9).
I get tired having conversation after conversation every day in my second language. This week I battled physical illness and emotional boat-rocking, and with no where else to go, I told God how I felt. I don’t know if I can keep doing this day after day! I don’t know if I have the fire in my bones like Jeremiah did, but I want it.
Friday afternoons are like a victory celebration around here, having made it through another week. We deserved an iced coffee or a movie or at least a break from conversation. But God had stirred and burdened and given us a story and a person on our hearts. So, we headed out and found her at home, pulled up plastic chairs and offered the words of life about a God who is victorious even over death, who wept with His friends and gave hope. The woman repeated the story line for line as we told it, and at the end exclaimed, “Jesus is very smart!”
We may not be prophets like Jeremiah, and our hardships might not look like his, but are we willing to keep going, to keep proclaiming Truth when persecution comes or discouragement knocks us down? Do the hope and joy of Jesus burn like a fire deep in our bones so that we MUST speak, we must love and show compassion no matter where we are? Lord, let it be so in me.