Jeremiah was a diehard prophet. He was called at a young age to bring God’s truth to a people who did not want to hear it. They were obstinate. They peaked out on stubbornness for the wrong reason - the wrong cause. But despite Jeremiah’s difficult work, God gave him reassurance. God reminded Jeremiah that He knew him even before He shaped him in his mother’s womb. God set Jeremiah to this monstrous task even before he was born. And God promised that, despite the opposition, He would hover over every experience that met Jeremiah; all the cold hard glaring would not overcome his task because of God’s presence and protection.
Nonetheless, it was a hard task.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “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.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:4-8)
Jeremiah’s first complaint was an inability to speak. God set him free from this worry by placing His hand on Jeremiah and placing His words in his mouth. “Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’” (Jeremiah 1:9)
We might be concerned that we are unable to speak about “God matters” when talking to others who don’t know Jesus. But God also stills our fears and apprehensions. His Words are firmly ascribed in the Bible. And we’ve even taken to memorizing portions of Scriptures so that they will be with us always; they are deep in our minds and our hearts.
Jeremiah’s second attempt at getting out of this task was to play the “youth” card. Youth is valued in our culture, even to the point of dismissing what our elders say for the sake of the newest and trendiest approaches to living. But in Jeremiah’s day, youth were to respect their elders because of the life experiences which they had met. Life is not just learned, it is experienced. Those who make it through difficult work environments are revered. Those who climb over despair and embrace marriage obstacles with peace and love, these same people have earned the right to speak. Those we tackled challenges with grace and adorned their life with love and contentment were valued by the society of Jeremiah’s day.
The elders had credibility. Jeremiah was hoping to be able to slip away from God’s call to prophecy. Leave this for the elders. But God specifically planned on Jeremiah being the one to take up the call of duty. God has also made specific plans for our call to duty - we are to always be ready to share the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15).
We are each called to be a witness to the real events of Christ’s life and death and resurrection. We are to be witnesses of how God has changed us. We have the hope of the resurrection to eternal life that comes through Jesus. This makes us qualified to speak God’s truth.
This week I was privileged to share Jesus with a woman almost twice my age. We have had 13 years to grow our conversations and in those 13 years, we’ve always come back to two basic truths: We are both sinners whose words have broken hearts, we are sinful in our actions and selfish in our approach to others, we can’t even keep our thoughts on the up and up. The other truth we both agree on is that Jesus came to bear our burden so that our troubled human hearts could be free from the burden of experiencing God’s justice.
She might have about 40 years on me, I am literally that much younger than her, but that difference in age has not dampened our time together. We have both grown to appreciate more and more what God has done for us by sending Jesus as our Savior. Our relationship has grown because we each see that the other is equally loved and forgiven by God.
As you ponder the words of Jeremiah this week, remember that you also have a commission from God to be His spokesman. This world may not always accept the message of Jesus with open arms, but there are some whose eyes have opened up in these last two years; they see that they need someone else outside of themselves. Jesus is the answer to all our troubles.