In the past weeks, I have been reading from the book of Jeremiah. It’s an incredible story of one man’s obedience to God and telling a story to the people that they didn’t want to hear and to which they responded violently. I have been impressed with Jeremiah’s faithfulness as he continues to say what his Heavenly Father is asking him to say. I want that kind of obedience for my own life. Below is an excerpt from Jeremiah 37 & 38 and my personal reflections from a few weeks ago.
Jeremiah 37 & 38
14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.
16 Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time. 17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately,“Is there any word from the Lord?”
“Yes,” Jeremiah replied, “you will be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon.”
18 Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crime have I committed against you or your attendants or this people, that you have put me in prison? . . .
4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”
5 “He is in your hands,” King Zedekiah answered. “The king can do nothing to oppose you.”6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.
I cringed as I read this. Jeremiah was brutalized by self-righteous people who didn’t want to hear the voice of God. Am I this faithful? Am I willing to be obedient to the point of being unfairly beaten, imprisoned, or left to die in the mud? While the situations I have faced haven’t been life-threatening, I have found myself recoiling with fear at the thought of proclaiming the truth and finding myself in the path of someone’s anger. I am sure that I have compromised the message to steer clear of consequences that would be far less severe than what Jeremiah faced. At the same time, being faithful doesn’t entail being arrogant or demeaning. I want to live faithfully and proclaim the truth of the Gospel, I want to live a life that brings honor to the Father and call men and women to more passionately follow him. To do this, I have to trust the Father with my physical well-being, financial well-being, my life, and even my reputation.