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We all come to a place at one time or another where we ask the question, “Why is my life so hard? Why do I have to endure this particular problem or experience this pain or go through this situation?” In Jeremiah 20:7-19, we see Jeremiah reach that place. He hits rock bottom and cries out asking, why his life was so hard.
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
- From chapter 19 we learn that Jeremiah has been preaching the about the coming destruction of Jerusalem
- From 20:1-6, we learn that the chief officer of the temple beat Jeremiah and put him in prison for preaching this message.
- Key word: prevail
- His words are not polite complaint; they are strong, bitter, accusations.
- Jeremiah says the calling the Lord gave him caused him great personal suffering.
- He cannot stop preaching and preaching results in persecution.
- This stanza is “expression of trust.” It’s a common form of Hebrew poetry, and it is often found in the Psalms and in the writings of the prophets.
- Expressions of trust frequently begin “But the Lord….”
- Key word is prevail.
- The change of tone results from “For to You I have set forth my cause” (vs 12).
- Having fully expressed his woes to the Lord, Jeremiah is free to rest in the knowledge that the matter is in the Lord’s hands.
- If the first complaint was a bad day, this complaint is the “1:00 am melt down.”
- Jeremiah curses the day of his birth and the messenger who brought the news of his birth.
- Essentially, Jeremiah asks the Lord, “why would you ask anyone to endure this?”
- Doing the right thing does not guarantee an easy life. (See also 1 Peter 4:12-14.)
- Jeremiah gives us the freedom to complain to God.
- After expressing our pain to the Lord, we then trust Him for the outcome.
- Problems arise when those two (complain and rest) get out of balance.
- We learn from Jeremiah we all fall apart sometimes. But when we do, we should turn to the Lord.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Next: 09 Jeremiah 23:1-8 Who will help us out of this mess?
Previous: 07 Jeremiah 18:1-17 Who does God think He is?
Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.