Jeremiah’s difficulties were extreme. He struggled with depression. He was friendless. He lived in a declining culture on the brink of moral and physical disaster. His full time job was to deliver bad news, which resulted in legitimate death threats. Extreme.
You and I can learn something crucial about our trials from this Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet. In the midst of his difficulties there is the scene in which he receives death threats (26:7-11). Immediately following the chanting for his death Jeremiah includes two phrases in his response: a) “The LORD sent me to prophesy” (v.12,15); b) about the crowd of people he said, “I am in your hands” (v.14).
Here is Jeremiah’s theological perspective: In one sense, I belong to my circumstance. I am in its hands. It may physically shake me, even slay me. AND, in another sense, I am in this situation because God Almighty sent me into it. He assigned me into this role, in this circumstance. In other words, I am wrapped up in/by this difficult calling, but my anchor and identity is in trusting and obeying Jehovah regardless of the circumstance or outcome.
Circumstances have you and I in their hands daily.
Jeremiah was in the hands of the crowd. AND he recognized he was in the crowd (circumstance) because he was assigned to be a prophet by God (role). The Lord sent me: to be mother to this child, to be single in this season, to be spouse to a temperamental (or lazy or selfish or childish or joyless or ungodly) spouse, to be an employee at this place, to be a student at this school.
WHERE ARE YOUR EYES FIXED?
Jeremiah fixed his eyes on God’s sovereignty and wisdom, even in a crazy circumstance, and he was able to endure in God-centered obedience rather than lash out or retreat in fear. “Yep, crowd, I’m in your hands. Yep, this is where the LORD sent me. I’m going to fulfill my role with my eyes on Him. I choose to be faithful to Him, rather than steered by discouragement, hostility, or my preferences.”
What about your roles, Christian? “The LORD sent me as a _______.” He wants me in these roles because He has restoring, truth-speaking, love-giving, patience-displaying, hope-stirring, mercy-granting work that He has sent me to do with these people in these places. The circumstances may shake me. They may engulf me to my grave, but they do not own me. Jesus does. He owns me because He purchased me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Peter 1:18-19). Therefore my confidence and allegiance lies with Him within my roles and circumstances.
We can obey, like Jeremiah, and see God’s hope and freedom enter into difficult circumstances when we fix our eyes again and again on God's assigning of our our roles. They aren't random. We have been sent by the LORD and promised the strength of His grace.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” 2 Corinthians 9:8.
Christian, you are sent into your roles with God’s grace, as Christ’s ambassador, for His glory to spread to all the earth…including your imperfect, often difficult corner of it.
by: Thomas Gold
Thomas is a pastor at RSBC. He yearns to join others in fighting for freedom from internal and external evil and pain. He is married to Janice and happy to be raising their six children together.