Friday, January 18, 2013
courage beyond our complaints
But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
When these words of conviction came from Jeremiah, he had just been released from custody after suffering for the sake of prophecy. He had been beaten, publicly humiliated, and put in stocks at the pedestrian gate at the temple (Jeremiah 20:1-3). Yet his first action upon release was to confront the idolatrous official who had punished him (Jeremiah 20:3-6). This was a remarkable courage.
What was the source of this kind of brave commitment to the Word of God? It was God's presence with Jeremiah. And interestingly enough, the prophet's courage was found in pain, difficulty, and even confusion about his circumstances. He starts his reflections upset at God for not stopping persecution despite the prophet's commitment (Jeremiah 20:7-8). He then reflects on how he cannot shut up the truth. It burns within him until he lets it out, regardless of the consequences (Jeremiah 20:9). He finds praise in the Lord's presence and trust in God's vindication (Jeremiah 20:10-13). But he finally still struggles with despair because the pain still feels overwhelming as he pours out a bitter, sarcastic litany to God (Jeremiah 20:14-18).
What I see here is that the courage that God brings still comes despite our complaints about not understanding why we face our circumstances. God gives us courage despite our gripes and unanswered questions. God will use us even when we are perplexed and even when we blame Him for our pain. Thank God His grace is that great!