Terror on Every Side
Loving Father, Your love and care are beyond my understanding. Open me to receive Your Word today.
Read JEREMIAH 20:1-18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“God is big enough to take our anger, our questions, our doubt as well as our guilt” (J. Bell).
In 19:10,11 Jeremiah brings his message of disaster into the very center of Zion, the temple, and in this chapter he meets with Pashhur and his punishment. Look how many times the word “all” occurs in vs. 1-6. Who is responsible for this “Terror on Every Side” (3)? In v. 10 people suggest it is Jeremiah, but Jeremiah proposes that it is Pashhur and the Jerusalem establishment (3), and the lies (6) with which they have deceived themselves. Verse 12 and 11:20 bracket our series of readings in Jeremiah, bringing us full circle. The word “vengeance” is misleading: Jeremiah seeks redress, the righting of wrongs, the implementation of justice.
More flattering biographers might have deleted the rest of ch. 20, but Baruch has recorded the story of Jeremiah’s inner journey. The next 20 chapters show Jeremiah’s outer journey, doggedly continuing his ministry through wind, storm and hurricane. Here we see his inner struggles: the intermittent uncertainty, the pain of ridicule and friendlessness, the burning fire of God’s word which flares out, the outbursts of trust and praise, the struggle with sorrow and shame: “Why did it have to be me?!” A recent book has revealed that the world-famous Mother Teresa struggled with spiritual darkness through a ministry of decades. Holocaust survivors have struggled with survivor guilt. In this world, not all laments end in praise; not all sicknesses are healed; not all prodigals return home; not all cancers find remission; and finally we all die. In our (post)-modern world many people are looking for authenticity, for honesty; they may not find proofs, but they want reality. I pray for strength to continue my journey, like Jeremiah, in hope and love founded on God’s faithfulness.
It is easy to sink from the height of exaltation (13) to the depths of despair (14-18). What can help you continue on through the ups and downs of your daily life? How are you showing authenticity and honesty as a Christian to non-believers?
Lord, You are the great hope-giver. In tough times, I need the hope You give. As I live in You, I pray that despair will diminish and hope prevail.
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