Jeremiah’s vocation looks anything but glamorous. I doubt many of us would choose the work of the “weeping prophet.” Today’s reading contains some harsh words Jeremiah was called to deliver to those in power in and around Jerusalem. Jeremiah doesn’t have the luxury of telling God’s people that things are going to get better. Instead, he’s often tasked with the opposite, in essence saying, “It’s about to get a lot worse. God’s bringing His discipline against you.”
Our own callings may not entail us having to be the bearer of bad news to every local leader and king; however, there may very well be days when our hearts are weary and feel helpless, when we would much rather give up and let someone else do the work. Jeremiah feels this pain intimately and laments over it. And in Jeremiah 20:7–18, he gives us words to pray when we, too, are bent out of shape and weary in our labors.
As we remember, Jeremiah’s calling was to proclaim the Word of the Lord to the kings of Judah and to Jerusalem. Yet in being faithful to God’s call, he was certainly met with more and more enemies, because the words God had given him to speak were words of judgment—words no one wanted to hear or receive. So they despised and plotted against the prophet.
Jeremiah felt this deeply. And so he prayed, essentially saying, “God, I’ve had it! I’m tired of being the bearer of bad news all the time. Tired of the people not listening and hating me. I’d rather hold your word up in my mouth, but it’s a fire that has to be spoken. So I’m just utterly frustrated I have to keep doing this and I wish I was never born.” Talk about honest prayer and lament!
I am so thankful this raw and honest prayer is here within Scripture, because it validates two things for us. First, we can bring our frustrations to God, all of them, even our frustrations with Him. He is more than able to handle them. Second, God has not abandoned us. Even in the midst of anger and frustration, Jeremiah prays with hope: “But the LORD is with me like a violent warrior” (Jeremiah 20:11). Our laments can be frustration-filled pleas toward God, and when we cry out to Him, we can be reminded that He is still with us in our struggle.
In Christ, the Word of God made flesh, we have an advocate who welcomes our fears and frustrations and raw emotions in the moment. Bringing these things to Him shows our deep trust in Him. He is safe, and He is powerful, able to handle our disappointment, sorrow, even anger. He invites us to cry out to Him, to trust Him with our hearts and all He has called us to do.
Written by Jeremy Writebol