Focal Passage: Jeremiah 20:1-13
The sources of discouragement seem endless at times. Sometimes we are discouraged by what we lack, and other times by what we wish we could unload. One of my seminary professors told about a church plant he once pastored which included one of the most negative people he’d ever met. He said there were Sundays when he wanted to ask, “Ma’am would you please open us with a word of criticism?” In hindsight such trials may bring laughter, but when we’re walking through them they provide overwhelming discouragement. Jeremiah endured both negative words and physical suffering, but he continued to stand firm on the Word of God. In order to follow Jeremiah’s example we must focus on our unchanging Lord instead of our temporary circumstances.
Discouragement causes us to turn inward. Even Jeremiah began to believe that God had deceived him. In the midst of mockery and the vengeful plotting of his friends, Jeremiah simply got honest before God. When was the last time you did that? Jeremiah wasn’t informing God but humbling himself, admitting he couldn’t stop preaching the truth no matter how he felt. As we confess our frustrations to God, He draws near to us and we begin to understand His purpose for them. As Laura Story’s song, “Blessings,” asks, “What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?”
Although Jeremiah continued to struggle with discouragement, he knew victory would come. The circumstances that produced this spiritual depression in his heart were overshadowed by the truth of God’s Word. He had already warned in 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.”
John also reminds us that when our heart condemns us “God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). When you become heart sick over the weight of God’s calling, remember that the same truth that set you free is all-sufficient to sustain you in the valleys of life.