The Call of Jeremiah Jeremiah 1:4,5
“The Word of the Lord came to me saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah then puts up his fists as it were and says “But I’ don’t know how to speak, I’m only a child. ” Then with a mild rebuke the Lord tells Jeremiah Don’t say that! “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Don’t be afraid, I’m with you and I will rescue you.” vs 8
Often when we read this or hear this preached we are inspired to get out there and follow God’s call with abandon and gusto. We leave our pews with our pompoms on and get excited about declaring God’s love and truth in our world. But life isn’t a fairytale. Hard times are inevitable. For Jeremiah when King Josiah died, Jeremiah’s hardships as a prophet of God increased. His message aroused immense hostility and death threats, especially in his own home town, Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21). Even his own relatives conspired against him and betrayed him (Jeremiah 12:6). NICE!
His persecution increased in Jerusalem when a priest named Pashhur sought out Jeremiah to have him beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin for a day (Jeremiah 20:1-2). After this, Jeremiah lamented the hardship that had come to him for speaking God’s words. It was difficult to have become a laughingstock to the people and a target of mockery (verse 7).
Later, spiteful men obtained the king’s approval to arrest Jeremiah for prophesying disaster. These men then lowered Jeremiah by ropes into a cistern, and he sank into a layer of mud (Jeremiah 38:1-6). When another court official learned about Jeremiah’s fate, he persuaded the king to let him rescue Jeremiah before he starved to death at the bottom of the cistern (verses 7-13).
Yet Jeremiah knew he had to speak the message God had given him. He wrote how, if he tried to resist speaking what God told him to speak and tried to not even mention God’s name, God’s words became like fire in his heart. He was unable to hold them in (Jeremiah 20:9).
God told Jeremiah that if he would boldly speak His words and not shrink back in fear of the people, He would give him the strength he needed to withstand the persecution. God told him, “I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; and they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail
Often in life we are hit with difficulties. We have relationship problems, health problems, loneliness, self doubt, that job you wanted just doesn’t come through, the finances aren’t there, the ministry you are helping has leadership problems, living in another country as a missionary is way harder than you ever thought it could be, your internship doesn’t look like you thought it would, you have visa issues and the difficulties continue to mount up so high you can barely remember the call or you think your must not have heard God correctly.
Throughout life we are told that if everything goes right then we have the favour of God on our lives. A perfect life means your are living under blessing right? If things fall apart or don’t go as we expected, well maybe we’ve stepped out of God’s will, our we’ve somehow messed up. I probably thought that way myself at one point in my life. I do believe that when you honour God and seek him first you are blessed and live life to the full, but blessings as some define them are not necessarily (or even often) financial or material or perfect health. The scriptures are full of great, exciting calls, often followed by great hardship. We need to remember that the circumstances don’t change the call. Difficulties don’t mean the call has left us, or we didn’t hear correctly, it means you are living a normal Christian life. The blessings in the difficulties are dying to self, learning dependance on the Holy Spirit, learning to consider it pure joy when you go through the trials (James 1) because God is really at work in your life. Perhaps those fighting through hardship are the most blessed of all.
Is God in the middle of the hard stuff? Always.