Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you,” making him very glad. Let that man be like the cities that the Lord overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? – Jeremiah 20:15-18 ESV
Jeremiah wraps up his prayer with a lament, and he is shockingly blunt and openly vulnerable in what he has to say. He doesn’t try to sugar coat his feelings or put his words in proper King James English in an attempt to sanitize them for God. He simply says what he is feeling. Sometimes these kinds of open, honest lay-it-all-on-the-line comments in Scripture make us a bit uncomfortable. We feel as if it is somehow wrong or at least disrespectful for anyone to talk like that to God. But it’s interesting to note that it was God who determined to include these kinds of diatribes in the Scriptures. We see them repeatedly in the Psalms and in the book of Job. These expressions of grief, anger and sorrow are there to remind us that the life of God’s children here on this earth can sometimes be difficult. We are, after all, only human. We are weak and prone to feel the effects of the conflict when we attempt to live life on this planet as God’s people. Jeremiah was a chosen instrument of God. He was a faithful servant who was doing exactly what God had called him to do. And his task was difficult. He suffered from feelings of despair, defeat and discouragement. He got lonely. He grew tired of having to be the bearer of bad news all the time. His calls to repentance fell on deaf ears and he never saw anyone respond in a positive way. And it wore on him.
Jeremiah knew he couldn’t curse God. That was a capital offense under the Mosaic law. So was cursing your parents. So Jeremiah cursed the messenger who brought the news of his own birth to his father. How low had Jeremiah gotten? Low enough to regret the day he was born. Here was a man who was serving God each and every day of his life and he had reached the point of wishing he had never seen the light of day. Yes, Jeremiah knew God had made him. He knew God had called him. He also knew he had a job to do and he would continue to do it. But that does not mean that he didn’t have moments when he felt completely exhausted and defeated in what he had to do. Living in obedience to God’s will is not always easy. Like Jeremiah, we live in the midst of a culture that stands opposed to everything for which we stand. We have been called to be salt and light. We sometimes think of salt as a preservative, which it is. But it can also be an irritant. Salt in an open wound can burn and cause great pain. Light exposes darkness. It reveals what is going on in the hidden areas of life. When we live as messengers of God, our words and actions will not always be met with open arms. Our very presence in the culture should cause a certain amount of uncomfortableness and conviction. When we share the good news of salvation available through Jesus Christ, we cannot do so without sharing the bad news regarding sin and the penalty of eternal separation from God. Not everyone wants to hear that message. Not everyone wants to be convicted of their sins.
The apostle Paul told the believers in Galatia, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV). Why would he have to tell them not to grow weary? Because he knew that they would. It is only natural and normal. Doing good, what God has called us to do, won’t always be welcomed by the world. We will be misunderstood, rejected, ridiculed, and even hated. Jesus told His disciples, “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22 ESV). Throughout the New Testament we read that we are to endure, persevere, fight the good fight, not grow weary, encourage one another, and stand firm in the faith. Why? Because we will be tempted to do just the opposite. We will have days like Jeremiah did. We will experience moments of despair, doubt and defeat. And when they come, we are free to share them with our God because He loves us. He already knows what we are feeling long before we share it. He can handle our complaints. He can understand our weakness. And He can renew our strength. Jeremiah would go on to complete the task assigned to him by God. He would rebound and recover the motivation to keep on keeping on. His faith would waiver and wain at times, but with the help of God, he would persevere. And so will we. Our moments of weariness and weakness should remind us of our need for God. We cannot live this life on our own. It is impossible for any of us to walk in obedience to God without the help of God. Over time, we will learn to say along with Paul, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV).