"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don't know why things happen as they do, but we don't give up and quit."
- 2 Corinthians 4:8 TLB
If you have ever felt isolated and alone because of your devotion to the Lord, I can relate to how you feel. So could the prophet Jeremiah. If we look closely at a conversation he had with the Lord in Chapter 15 of the Book of Jeremiah, we can gain some valuable insights that can greatly benefit us in our walk with God.
In verse 17 (NLT), Jeremiah tells the Lord: “I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because Your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins.” Have you ever stayed home alone, rather than see a questionable movie with friends or family? Have you ever refused to attend a party or gathering that might involve ungodly behavior? If so, then you have an idea of the sacrifices that Jeremiah made, all because of His devotion to the Lord. But look how the prophet challenges God in the next verse. “Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.” (v. 18 NLT) Here, Jeremiah complains about the Lord's apparent lack of help when he's in need. One thing we can learn here is that we don't have to pretend with God. If we're hurting in some way--if we're angry, fearful, or confused--we can tell the Lord exactly what our true feelings are. Only then can we receive the comfort and strength from Him that we so desperately need. Scripture says: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth.” (Psalm 145:18 AMP) We are being insincere with God when we try to pretend that we are perfectly fine, while our insides are in utter turmoil. That kind of strategy will distance us from the Lord, and we will never have the deeply personal and intimate relationship with Him that He longs for us to have.
Notice how God responds to Jeremiah's complaints: “If you return to Me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve Me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be My spokesman.” (v. 19 NLT) The Lord doesn't get angry at His servant, but He does rebuke him for his lack of faith. Jeremiah's heart is in danger of becoming hard. That's what doubt does to us. That's why Scripture warns: “Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man who reverently and worshipfully fears [the Lord] at all times [regardless of circumstances], but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” (Proverbs 28:14 AMP) When we start to doubt God's dealings with us, we open ourselves up to attacks from the Destroyer, who Jesus said “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10 NIV) When we're struggling in our faith, we need to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him to strengthen us and give us wisdom for the battle. The Savior said, “Blessed are those who don't doubt Me.” (Matthew 11:6 TLB) When we refuse to doubt our God in tense situations, His best blessings will begin to flow into our lives, and even the devil himself won't be able to stop them.
As the Lord goes on to speak to Jeremiah about acting as His spokesman, He says: “You must influence them; do not let them influence you!” (v. 19 NLT) Here, God attempts to get His servant's focus off of himself and his problems, and onto his divine calling and purpose. Once we receive God's precious gift of salvation, why doesn't the Lord just take us up to heaven? He leaves us here so that we can partner with Him for the expansion of His kingdom on earth--to help others experience the same rebirth and renewal that we've had through the Holy Spirit. We can't make a difference for God when we live like everyone else. Jesus put it this way: “Let Me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (Matthew 5:13 MSG) As believers in Christ, God has extraordinary plans and purposes for our lives. But if we lose our focus, if we compromise our walk with God, we will become useless to Him, and we will live mediocre, meaningless lives. Today, will you put aside your complaints and doubts, and lay hold of the Lord's highest purposes for you?
Prayer: Lord, when I'm hurt, angry, or confused, help me to share my true feelings with You. Give me a trusting heart, and enable me to stand strong in times of temptation and trial. Thank You that as I am faithful to You, You will use me to touch and change lives for all eternity!
- J. M. Farro