Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet at a young age and as far as ministries goes his, by all intents and purposes, was a major failure. For more than 23 years he brought the same message of doom and gloom that was totally unheeded. He spoke messages of “repent or die”, “defect or die”, “exile is your place of blessing”, “freedom will only come in seventy years”. Not happy messages. In fact they made him unpopular to the point of prison.
Then there was the message he had to share telling everyone, king included, “the rest of the prophets are lying to you. I am the only one telling you God’s true message.” That would have been a really tough gig. No wonder they wanted to kill him!
And they people didn’t listen and they didn’t repent and the world didn’t change because Jeremiah obeyed God. In fact, even when Jeremiah’s prophecies started to come true, the people hated him more and didn’t listen to him then either.
No wonder he wrote Lamentations. I’m sure some days he felt like an absolute and utter failure.
Yet he wasn’t. He was in the perfect will of God. He was obeying God. He was exactly where he was supposed to be, doing exactly what he was born to do. It just wasn’t a very nice mission he was called to. It wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t fun. It certainly wasn’t popular.
My Bible Study Group is currently learning our way through “The Battle Plan for Prayer” based on The War Room movie (which I strongly recommend). This week I caught this quote from one of the experts, who said:
“Often it’s not that I don’t hear from God. It’s just that I don’t like what He’s saying.”
I’d never thought of it like that before. I definitely can relate. Can you?
How often when we hear God say something we don’t like do we brush it off, pretend we didn’t hear it or even combat it with “that’s can’t be God because…”? It’s a little scary to think about. Lord Jesus, forgive me for all the times I’ve done this.
I know my choice of Life Plan for me is not at all what God’s Plan for Gail. When I’m laying in bed sick, sick, sick and missing out on fun things, when I’m losing financially and career wise and not meeting ministry and life goals because of my illness, when I’m fighting insurers and spending money I don’t have on solicitors and doctors who can’t help, when I’m single, childless and facing forty, when I’m in a dark place and taking the long walk home, this is so not Gail’s Life Plan.
Yet, in that valley, I was exactly in the will of God for me. It was His plan for me. I don’t like it. It isn’t pleasant and definitely not popular. But I gave my life to Jesus and He has my full permission to do whatever He likes with it.
Jeremiah 29 is my currently favourite chapter in the Bible. If you haven’t read it recently you should. I love how God tells His peeps that their exile is a place of hope, blessing and life. This is His plan for them. This place of hardship, a long way from home, this place of hurt, is His will for them.
This is God talking to them. I don’t know if they heard Him but I’m pretty sure many of them didn’t like what He said. How many embraced the offered blessings and life? How many rejected His message of hope and comfort because they didn’t like what they heard? How many felt God wasn’t talking to them?
We can fight our exile, our valley of hurt, be it illness, unemployment, relationship issues, financial struggles, etc, or we can look for the hope and blessings God has placed for us in that season.
God’s will for us can be painful, uncomfortable, scary, unpopular, just plain hard work, and a long, long way from where we think we should be. Yet, it is still His will and we need to trust Him in that too.
I’ll leave you with a funny story about my Dad “not” hearing from God. Back when my Dad was about 20 he was in a tiny town in Africa for his job and desperately trying to hear God’s guidance on a life changing decision. He was so desperate to hear from God that he went to the only church in town (which happened to be Catholic) and sat on a pew and said to God “I’m not leaving here until I hear from you.” Then he sat and waited and waited and waited for ages and ages. Forty five minutes later he decided God wasn’t talking to him so my Dad left the church (yes 45 minutes felt like forever). Just as he walked out the church doors God clearly said to him “I already told you what to do!” God had already spoken to my Dad, he just didn’t like what God said.
What has God been saying to you that you don’t like? Maybe it’s time to listen and accept what He’s saying.