Remaining Faithful During Awful Times
Many of us struggle to remain faithful and trust in God when times are difficult. If you have moments like this, read through Jeremiah. Jeremiah was called to be a prophet during one of the most horrendous times of the Hebrew’s history. When he was very young, he was called to proclaim God’s word to Judah (southern kingdom). This was the time when Josiah was king. He was one of the only good kings who genuinely trusted in God and walked in God’s ways. Unfortunately, the great reforms of Josiah were too late to save Judah. The world around Judah was also in chaos during Jeremiah’s life and ministry. After Josiah’s reign, Babylon conquered Egypt and Assyria. Judah had been under the control of Assyria who had completely overthrown Israel (northern kingdom) before Jeremiah’s time. For the Hebrew people living in Judah, this met that eventually most of the citizens of Judah, especially those in power and those who were wealthy, were forced into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah gets the job of announcing these coming events to God’s people. Meanwhile false prophets continue to proclaim that all will be well and no one should surrender to Babylonian authority.
Jeremiah’s rewards for speaking the Truth and remaining faithful to God included being branded a heretic, declared insane, being persecuted, and imprisoned. Finally, toward the end of the book, Jeremiah begins to proclaim that in fact God will restore Jerusalem and the those in exile will be able to return home. But Jeremiah never lives to see this fulfillment of God’s promises. Yet even during these devastating times, Jeremiah remains faithful to his call.
I know that some pastors and church traditions will promise that if you are faithful, God will reward you. I cannot do this! The Bible clearly teaches that some who are faithful are not rewarded – at least not in this lifetime. But I think the story of Jeremiah helps most of us get our frustrations and setbacks in perspective.
I have had difficult times in ministry. But I cannot say that I ever feared for me life. I cannot say that I have been imprisoned. I don’t think anyone outside of my immediate family has ever called me crazy (well, maybe a few close friends…)! But rereading the book of Jeremiah has helped me put my faith story into perspective. It has reminded me that success or failure is not the determiner or God’s presence. God made me and you a promise. God will remain faithful to that promise forever more!!
The promise is not an easy life or success. The promise is God’s abiding presence now and always!
May God keep you faithful in your calling to be a child of God and witness to the hope we have in Christ!