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(Part 42)


August 28, 2011
Today’s reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9

The prophet Jeremiah went into interior crisis as he did his prophetic work. He complains, “All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.” (Jer 20:7c). He laments, “The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.” (Jer 20:8b).

Are we the same way at times? Do we complain that God does not seem to be treating us right, given that we are serving Him? Do we complain about being derided and mocked by the very persons we are trying to serve?

Well, we must realize that this comes with the territory. We are after all doing our work in a darkened world, where evil abounds. Many have fallen under the dominion of the enemy, and they will resist the light and the words of life that we bring.

But then, do we give up? Do we say to ourselves, “I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more.” (Jer 20:9a)? Do we give up our prophetic ministry, to speak the name of Jesus to a disbelieving world? Do we take the easy way out?

How can we? Is not the name of Jesus and the work of Jesus “like fire burning in (our) heart, imprisoned in (our) bones” (Jer 20:9b)? Having experienced the love of God, having been fired up by the Holy Spirit, can we opt to be anything else but the servants of Jesus who will do the work of evangelization, proclaiming him and his salvation to the whole world? If we do not give it out, we will just “grow weary holding it in” (Jer 20:9c)! How can we resist the impetus of the Spirit? How can we ignore the great privilege of standing in Jesus’ place as we continue with his work? We cannot! We “cannot endure it.” (Jer 20:9d).

When Jesus first called us, it was just such a blessing. We experienced the wonders of starting to live in him. Prayers were answered. Consolation was given. But then, as we grew in our faith and experienced deeper transformation, the challenges came. Pain and affliction. Oppression and persecution. Seemingly unanswered prayers. The dark night of the soul. Like Jeremiah, we might have cried out, “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped” (Jer 20:7a).

Well, God does not dupe anyone. He treats us according to our condition. First as babies in Christ we are fed milk; then we are fed solid food. First we are given lots of consolation through answered prayers and bountiful blessings; then we are allowed to experience pain and suffering to deepen our faith. God always knows what is best. And because He loves us, He wants us to enter more deeply into a life in Him. He wants us to grow in holiness by purifying us like gold through the fire. He wants us to endure and persevere in our work of evangelization, making us more totally dependent upon Him as we face derision and oppression. He strengthens us through the discipline of suffering.

At the end of the day, we realize that God is not there for us to use or manipulate, to just call upon for the things that we want. We are not the master; God is. We do not live our life in Christ according to our human mind with its likes and dislikes, but according to the inscrutable mind and heart of God. There is work to be done, and we are the ones privileged to do it.

We praise God that He is who He is, and we are who we are. We must not have it any other way. In the end, we need to simply be able to say, “you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.” (Jer 20:7b). Then we must resolve to be about the Father’s business, and do our work of evangelization and mission. We preach Christ and his salvation. We boldly go forth, averring, “Whenever I speak, I must cry out” (Jer 20:8a).

May God have His way with us. May God triumph over our sinfulness and selfishness, over our fleshly ways of thinking. May His victory always shine forth in our lives.

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