Nobody ever said following the Lord would be easy. (At least I never have). And the life of a prophet is much tougher.
Jeremiah found that out when he learned that the people of his own hometown of Anathoth were plotting to kill him. But despite God’s reassurance that their time of judgment was coming near, Jeremiah complained to God saying,
You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Yet you know me, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you. (12:1-3)
In other words, “Why are these evil people around me prospering? Look at me! I’m doing my best to follow you, and see what it’s getting me? Everyone hates me and they even want to kill me!”
One might think that God would give him a consoling pat on the shoulder and say, “Oh don’t worry Jeremiah. It’ll all be okay.”
But instead, God gives him a word of rebuke. A slap in the face, so to speak.
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (12:5)
In short, “You’re tired already? This is only the beginning. Things are about to get much tougher. If you’re wilting now, how are you going to stand when the pressure really comes.”
God never promised us that the Christian life would be easy. And he warned Jeremiah, “Don’t even trust the members of your family, because they will betray you behind your back, while speaking pleasantly to your face.”
What am I saying? That we should be paranoid of everyone around us? Of course not. But on the other hand, don’t be surprised if you suffer for the sake of Christ. Jesus himself said,
Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:20)
Jeremiah was running out of steam because of the opposition he was facing. And essentially God was telling him, “Welcome to the big leagues. This is but a taste of what it means to follow me. And if you’re going to not just survive but thrive, you need to get a lot stronger.”
How do we get stronger? Know what you’re facing and prepare. Know that there are forces around us that are out to get us, and I’m not talking about the people that make trouble for us in our lives. Paul wrote,
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
How do we prepare in this spiritual fight? Paul tells us,
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
In other words, don’t rely on your own strength to fight. If you rely on your own strength, like Jeremiah, you will start to falter. Root yourself in your relationship with God. That’s what Jesus did daily, spending much time in prayer with the Father, drawing his strength for the day from him. Honestly, that’s something I need to do more of.
But not only that, put on the armor of God. Put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of faith, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Too many Christians run around naked and in their own strength, not even knowing there’s an enemy out there. That’s a good way to get killed.
How about you? Are you rooted in your relationship with God? Are you daily putting on his armor? If not, you’ll find yourself running out of steam very quickly, and getting shot down by the enemy.
Let us not be that way. Rather, as Paul said, let us,
Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)