Renewing Our Perspective

Jeremiah is one of my favorite Bible characters. He had some impressive wrestling matches with the Lord about the life mission assigned to him. His divine calling is recorded in Jeremiah 1:3: “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.” But virtually everything Jeremiah was commanded to prophesy amounted to bad news — warnings of disaster, deadly diseases, drought, famine, sword — and then exile.

There are shocking statements from God spoken to this prophet about a stubborn people who would not listen. For example, in 16:5: “For this is what the Lord says: ‘Do not enter a house where there is a funeral meal; do not go to mourn or show sympathy, because I have withdrawn my blessing, my love and my pity from this people,’ declares the Lord.” Or consider 14:11: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.” Then there is 15:1: “Then the Lord said to me: ‘Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!”

These were words that declared the end of God’s patience for His rebellious, idolatrous, adulterous people. Jeremiah really didn’t want to proclaim them, nor would we, realizing the fallout of ridicule, mockery, insults, reproach, threats and danger that were sure to fall back upon him. Yet Jeremiah couldn’t help himself but to speak the Word of the Lord. In wrestling with God in 20:9, Jeremiah says, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a burning fire, shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

One of the things that blesses me about God is the freedom he gave Jeremiah to vent — to be human — to let loose with his coarsest of thoughts. And then God would find a way to comfort His prophet and renew his courage and his perspective. We see this vividly in 20:11 where Jeremiah says, “But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.”

Though God’s calling on my life has been easy compared to Jeremiah’s, I appreciate the fact that, like him, we also can let God know what we’re feeling in our worst of moments. Because He loves us and cares for us more than mind can know or tongue can tell, God also gives us the freedom to vent. He listens and then He graciously comforts and encourages us and renews our perspective, just as He did with Jeremiah time and time again. Thank you, Lord, that we can always be real with You!

by Bob Page, Senior Pastor