by Pauline Simonsen
Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.
For to you I have committed my cause (Jeremiah 20:12b).
Poor Jeremiah. Was ever a man given such a tough, dispiriting task as he? God called Jeremiah to proclaim a cataclysmic message to Judah – that the God of Israel was bringing his judgement against them. Their great city of Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians, and the people would be taken off into slavery. Jeremiah faithfully declared this to his own people despite other prophets saying the exact opposite, and in the face of kings who demanded he cease and desist from his declarations of doom. ‘Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction,’ he sighs. ‘The word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.’
Even when he resolves to be silent, he finds that the message of God burns in his very bones (verse 9), and he cannot hold it in. He must speak what God lays on his heart, though it only brings him mockery, persecution and grief.
Actually, in every generation, God calls his people to this task: to speak his word without fear or favour. In our own time, we see the persecution of God’s people worldwide as they bring his word to people groups who don’t know him or don’t receive his Son. The Open Doors ministry reliably estimates that currently 1 in 8 Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith, and over 309 million Christians are suffering very high levels of persecution and discrimination. And still, missionaries feel called to go and speak the good news of Jesus to people who oppose them.
Why? Why would anyone want to do such a tough, dispiriting task? Because, like Jeremiah, the words of God burn in their hearts, demanding to be spoken. Because like Jeremiah, they have committed their cause to God, their ‘mighty warrior’ (verses 11,12). And like Jeremiah, they sing to the Lord and praise him because ‘He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked’ (verse 13).
Whether we risk our lives, our reputations, or just our comfort to speak the good news of Jesus Christ, we can be sure that God is our defender and deliverer, that he never abandons his beloved messengers, and that he alone can bring new life from cross-bearing. The life journey of our Lord Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, demonstrates the faithful, transformational redemption of God. Keep your eyes fixed on him.
Lord God, today we pray for persecuted Christians everywhere. Those who are losing heart and courage, facing overwhelming opposition, fearful and wanting to run or feel like their efforts are useless and failing. And we pray this for ourselves, as we feel this too … Holy Spirit, bring your comfort, encouragement and strength to us all, in the name of Jesus, our Pioneer and Saviour. Amen.