Lent 2022 – the way of life or death

Listen to Jeremiah chapter 20-22

Jeremiah chapter 20 is quite sad actually. A priest has Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks because Jeremiah has only destruction to speak to the people. Jeremiah basically feels like nothing he does is working. He keeps saying what God is telling him to say and the people do not repent. He is tired of telling them. He just wants to give up and stop talking. He would rather that he was never born but God’s word burns in his heart. So he speaks.

I say, “I won’t mention him

or speak any longer in his name.”

But his message becomes a fire burning in my heart,

shut up in my bones.

I become tired of holding it in,

and I cannot prevail.

Jeremiah 20:9

Jeremiah speaks some of the most honest prayers and laments here in this chapter! I find it interesting that in Chapter 21, King Zedekiah asks Jeremiah, “Inquire of the Lord on our behalf, since King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will perform for us something like all his past wondrous works so that Nebuchadnezzar will withdraw from us.”

Can you hear it? King Zedekiah is saying, “tell us that God will do something wonderful to get us out of this mess!” There was no way out. These people refused to repent and would rather beat the messenger into giving them a good word than turn from their evil ways.

Some of the hardest days we will live are the days that we must go through when we would much rather go around, over, or avoid altogether. This is very much where Jeremiah is. He must go through. He must speak the truth. He must follow God. Honest prayer and lament are the only way through. A few years back I wrote about lamenting. I was to write a lament – what I wrote was an expose of how upset I was about what was happening around me. We can see this in Jeremiah’s writings as well. Can I just tell you that there is nothing wrong with telling God all about it, as honestly as you feel it? He hears us. This raw honesty though is not lament, it is rather ranting. We are prone in our 20 first century life to rant online. Which is not healthy nor the place where this type of honesty can find healing and transformation. Lament is different. Lament is a cry of what is happening in us. It isn’t about pointing fingers and finding someone to blame for what is happening. It is about divulging the gut level of sadness we carry about where we are and what is happening in our own hearts.

We often find, at the bottom of lament, that we wish we were never born, just as Jeremiah did. Not that we want to die but that we acknowledge that life is hard, and we often just ignore how we really feel and push ourselves into joy before the pain can be felt. But it is through the struggle – struggling in mind about what is going on, struggling in heart about how we feel about it, and struggling with God about why this is happening – that we find He is with us, has made a way through it, and we have a hope. His name is Jesus…. look for Him.

Again, God over and over calls these people to repentance. Over and over God is calling them to “Administer justice and righteousness.” He isn’t hiding what the problem is: Jeremiah 22:9 …‘Because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord their God and bowed in worship to other gods and served them.’”

“But tell this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.

Jeremiah 21:8

What will we choose? Are you walking through something hard that you’ve been ignoring and not processing? Perhaps the struggle is related to a hard heart issue that the Lord would like to heal? If that sentence upset you, turn to Jesus, and begin the process of honest prayer and lament.

Thanks for Listening,

Starla

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

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