I was reading Jeremiah and was struck by what God speaks to him. Specifically, that Jeremiah was called before he was born to be a prophet and that he should not be afraid because God will be with him and rescue him. I found this really surprising considering Jeremiah is likely the most persecuted prophet in the Old Testament. He was imprisoned multiple times, beaten, pursued, dealt with treacherously, thrown in a dungeon, falsely accused, and tradition says he was finally stoned in Egypt.
God has an interesting view of rescue and things not to be afraid of. If I was told, “God will rescue you, do not be afraid,” I would assume this means I will be safe and little harm will come to me. Needless to say, Jeremiah’s story can be confusing, but I wonder 3 things about this odd dichotomy:
- I wonder if we can see what in Jeremiah’s life he was rescued from – perhaps there was unimaginably more that could have happened to him as God’s mouth piece. So, despite the persecution he did face, he may have been rescued from much more. He will rescue us.
- Perhaps we have confused what the normal life of a follower of Jesus should look like. 1 Thess. 3:3 “So that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions, for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.” Phil 1:29 “for to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Math 16:24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” This is the life of a follower of Christ. To suffer for the sake of Christ. This is the expectation. Certainly, there are incredible blessings in following Christ – but I think we should remember our expectation should be to suffer for His sake – we will be hated by the nations because of His name. It is expected.
- There is a secret to all of this suffering. There is a backwardness that logic does not understand. A persecuted life does not lack abundance. Though we suffer, we may still experience joy, life abundantly, satisfaction and many more blessings…. The product of suffering does not have to be our reality because of one magnificently powerful truth – God says He will be with us in suffering. His presence alone changes the entire DNA of our experience. God’s presence is more satisfying than the comforts of life. God’s presence brings life abundantly because He brings His Kingdom in all its glory. God’s presence will bring richness of joy because in His presence we can see things through the lens of wholeness rather than brokenness. Jesus is always in the business of setting people free into wholeness.
Let us reconsider our expectation as followers of Christ so we do not miss the blessing of being filled with His presence.
Jeremiah 1:8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.