Lord you have deceived me,
And I was deceived
You are stronger than I am,
And you have overpowered me.
Everyone makes fun of me;
They laugh at me all day long.
Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout,
Lord I am ridiculed and scorned all the time
Because I proclaim your message.
But when I say, “I will forget the Lord
And no longer speak in His name,”
Then your message is like a fire burning deep within me.
I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back.
I hear everybody whispering,
“Terror is everywhere!
So let’s report him to the authorities!”
Even my close friends wait for my downfall.
“Perhaps he can be tricked,” they say,
“then we can catch him and get revenge.”
But you, Lord, are on my side,
Strong and mighty, and those who persecute me will fail.
They will be disgraced forever, because they cannot succeed
Their disgrace will never be forgotten.
But Almighty Lord, You test men justly;
You know what is in their hands and minds.
So let me see you take revenge on my enemies,
For I have placed my cause in your hands.
Sing to the Lord!
Praise to the Lord!
He rescues the oppressed
From the power of evil men
Curse the day I was born!
Forget the day my mother gave me birth!
Curse the man, who made my father glad,
When he brought him the news,
“It’s a boy! You have a son!”
May he be like those cities
That the Lord destroyed without mercy.
May he hear cries of pain in the morning,
And the battle alarm at noon,
Because he didn’t kill me before I was born.
Then my mother’s womb would have been my grave.
Why was I born?
Was it only to have trouble and sorrow,
To end my life in disgrace? (Jeremiah 20:7-18).
Jeremiah was a prophet chosen by God, even though at first he was reluctant to accept the calling, citing youth (Jeremiah 1: 4-18). He lived during the latter part of the seventh century B.C. and the first part of the sixth century. During his long ministry he warned God’s people of the misfortune that was to fall upon the nation because of their idolatry and sin.
He was a sensitive man, who loved his people profoundly and who hated to pronounce judgement upon them. But as he says in the lamentation above, the word of the Lord was like a fire in his heart, which he couldn’t suppress, no matter how much he tried.
At one point in life each believer feels the same way; when they feel like their belief in God is being questioned, especially if something is not going right and others just can’t seem to understand why one would still believe in Him when everything around shows He is manifestly unreliable.
Sometimes remaining faithful to God feels difficult when the people we interact everyday don’t support us; because truth is, it is difficult trying to remain strong in faith when everyone else is a cynic.
“Why do you still believe in God?” A sceptic asks. “He is not real.”
“He is real,” a believer argues.
“Where was he when I lost my job? Or when I got kicked out of my house by the landlord because I couldn’t afford the rent? Where was he?” The sceptic questions.
When confronted with such scepticism, a believer tries to answer all those questions in a way that will help the doubter understand God is real and His intention isn’t for people to just suffer futilely. But what happens when that faith is the sole cause of one’s misery?
What if someone told you, who believes in God strongly, all the problems you have would cease if you did one little thing; if you denounced God? That if you stopped believing in Him, all those who hate you will love you and you will be popular. Would you do it?
That is the kind of life Jeremiah lived. His life was particularly difficult because he continued to believe in God, when those around him were opposed to it.
Suffering is part of a Christian’s life. Jesus suffered in the hands of men before He was eventually nailed on the cross and from His Passion, we’re reminded to persevere when we find ourselves enshrouded in misery.
When He was calling His disciples He told them, “If anyone wants to come with me he must forget himself, take up his cross everyday, and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23) He wanted them to know being His followers wouldn’t be an easy thing. They would be persecuted and killed for believing in Him.
Just like the Martins sang, He didn’t promise we wouldn’t suffer; but He promised to always be there; to see us through the storm. Believing in God doesn’t mean one has it easy; it only means one goes through each day fighting, hoping God will make it all fine. So don’t feel deceived if you pray every day and life still feels unbearable.
In the world we live in today, people are guided by the ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ mantra. So if Jeremiah lived in this century, he would have denounced God-hypothetically- just so he could be happy. That mantra however, as seen from Jeremiah’s life experiences, is not the attitude a Christian should adopt. If you can’t beat them, keep trying until you finally succeed.
It’s only by being persistent that we pass tests, and from that triumph we get testimonies. So whatever your situation in life, don’t give up; and don’t give in to pressure. Do what’s right, and God, the faithful Lord He is, will grant you that victory.