ODJ: Man in the Middle

July 3, 2017 

READ: Jeremiah 20:1-18 

If I say I’ll never . . . speak in [God’s] name, his word burns in my heart like a fire (v.9).

I heard a story about a university student who became trapped in a 17 inch space between two buildings. After zigzagging up a fire escape, he planned to jump from one rooftop to another. Instead, he fell into the slim chasm— dropping three stories until he was wedged in the narrow space between the buildings, unable to move. Finally, rescuers bored a hole through one of the buildings and pulled him to safety.

As God’s prophet, Jeremiah also felt trapped. Should he choose to speak the messages God wanted him to deliver— which caused him to be a social outcast—or simply speak what the people wanted to hear?

Although Jeremiah chose to speak God’s words, the cost was difficult. At one point, after being released from prison, the prophet lamented over the ridicule he endured, saying, “These messages from the Lord have made me a household joke” (Jeremiah 20:8). But he found he couldn’t stay silent, “If I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in His name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. . . . I am worn out trying to hold it in!” (v.9).

Jeremiah’s thoughts haunted him as he considered the rumours, name-calling and threats he would receive if he continued to speak for God. Yet he acknowledged God’s protection and said, “The Lord stands beside me like a great warrior” (v.11). Jeremiah stayed faithful to God and He sustained his prophetic ministry.

Many of us feel the tension between following God and the corresponding trouble that comes as we serve Him. Difficulty may continue, but God’s power can uphold us through all of it. He will enable us to prevail “not by force nor by strength, but by [His] Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

—Jennifer Schuldt

365-day plan: Matthew 7:1-12

Read Luke 22:41-44 to see how Jesus pressed on in His calling to save, despite the suffering He would have to endure. 
What circumstances are the most discouraging as you seek to live for Christ? What is God teaching you as you pray through these struggles?