Dear Discouraged Missionary,
I read about you last week. Or I should say, someone who may be a lot like you! My husband and I have been reading through the Bible chronologically for over a year now. We have recently reached the book of Jeremiah. Can I be honest and say that as I started this book I was feeling like it was “just one more book about the judgement and wrath of God.” For many books now I have been reading about warning, after warning, after warning from faithful prophets of old telling God’s chosen people to turn back to Him and lay aside their idols once and for all. One thing I have learned is that God is patient. He gave more warnings to His people than I can count, yet still they chose to do things their own way. But that’s not what I wanted to write about today.
I wanted to encourage you by what I see in the life of Jeremiah. He is a normal guy, just like you and me. He has a heart to be obedient to God, but He struggles. You can see him questioning God, wavering in His faith, wondering what in the world God is doing and why. Yet, his trust remains steadfast, even when the rest of the world seems to be against him. In chapter 20 you find Jeremiah in stocks (a restraining device, causing him to stoop) being persecuted for prophesying in the name of God. However, this does not hold him back from speaking the truth to his persecutor, Pashhhur, a priest of all people.
Jeremiah 20:9 says this:
If I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name, “there is in my heart as if it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
Even though Jeremiah would probably be content with giving up, God does not allow Jeremiah to stop preaching the truth. My study notes say “When Jeremiah decides not to preach, he apparently feels intense (and possibly bodily) pain as if the words are trying to burst forth. He cannot stop proclaiming God’s words.” -ESV Study Bible Notes
God was at work in Jeremiah.
God would not allow Jeremiah to stop.
When I started out thinking about Jeremiah I was thinking “Wow, what a neat guy. I want to be like him.” but the more I read his story I think “Wow, what a great God, He’s the one I need to be like.” It was God who gave Jeremiah the boldness to continue preaching truth. It was God who put a burning within his heart that He could not contain. It was God who showed Himself trustworthy over and over again. It was God who was the only one he could turn to in this terrible time of moral decline.
Are you feeling discouraged, burnt out, lonely? Are you asking God what in the world He is up to? Are you wondering if the people you have given your life to minister to will ever change? If so, God sees you, He hears you, He loves you and He is with you, just as He was with Jeremiah.
Earlier in Chapter 17 a few beautifully encouraging verses are written (vs 7-8):
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
I pray that today the Lord would be your trust. I pray that you would be deeply rooted in Him, just like a tree planted by the water. When dry times come, and they will, would you still be able to draw from the source. Would you still be able produce fruit, even in the hardest of seasons.
I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes yet, but I am sure I will know soon. My family and I leave for Tanzania in January, just 3 1/2 months away. Thanks for letting me share my heart with you, dear co-laborer. God has good plans for you. Plans for His glory and for your good!
Together Making Him Known,