Why not me Lord? – Wednesday, 2nd Week of Lent – Jeremiah 18:18-20/ Matthew 20:17-28
Jeremiah was not loved by the people he ministered to. When you read the book, you would clearly see that ‘not being loved’ was an understatement; he was hated! Hate is a very strong word to use. When used for another person, it indicates a tremendous dislike for another. To arrive at the word hate you need to pile up several superlatives that are negative. Jeremiah found himself at the end of a very long rope of love that God had extended to his people. That rope had now become for him a noose!
Jeremiah preached during the reigns of five kings, from the reforms under King Josiah through the exile under King Zedekiah. Living during a time of political and religious upheaval, Jeremiah is called to speak an uncomfortable word, a dangerous word, a word that will call people to account. At the start of the book, Jeremiah is given a vocation “to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” His critique will leave none unscathed. The book makes it quite apparent that Jeremiah is called to deliver a message that is both difficult and unwelcome.
Obviously, his message did not endear him to his people. He was put into stocks, thrown into a pit, mocked and derided. Many people called for his execution on charges of treason. He was deeply unpopular. When he passed by in the marketplace, people pointed at him and laughed.
Not only does Jeremiah protest that he has become a “laughingstock” and an object of mockery, he accuses God of enticing and overpowering him (20:7). Like Job, he laments the day of his birth.
This is a job that Jeremiah neither seeks nor welcomes. In chapter one Jeremiah cited his young age and objects to what he clearly saw as a difficult task. God, however, will not let Jeremiah’s youth stand in the way of sending a message that the people of Israel need to hear, even if they do not want to hear it.
Jeremiah’s life was about something bigger than himself, something bigger than his own desires; it was about God’s work, and God claimed him even before he was born. God calls him to a life lived for the sake of God’s mission in the world. That is what God does with many of us; he calls us to challenging missions. Missions in Church, at our workplace, in the family and so on. Yet the book clearly tells us that Jeremiah would not be alone and by extension neither are we.
Interestingly, while God regularly seeks people to do his will, the Bible highlights how God seeks young people in particular for divine work. Jacob, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Joshua, Samuel, David, Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, Abednego, Mary, Jarius’ daughter, Timothy, and Jesus at age twelve were all young when they too encountered the divine.
If it is God’s mission; God will provide us with the words to speak as he did with Jeremiah. Even more, God will be with us in the midst of every struggle. We need to say yes to his call, challenging as it may be.
Today, pray for young people to say to Jesus.