08/13/18 Mixed Emotions of Ministry

READING: Jeremiah 17-20

“There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones.”

Jeremiah 20:9

There are times when the call of God is both glorious and agonizing. Such was the situation with the prophet Jeremiah. On one hand, he was pained over the fact that whenever he spoke about coming judgment, the people ridiculed and mocked him; the Word of the Lord brought him “insult and reproach all day long” (Jer. 20:8). Indeed, he wanted to stop speaking the message, but the word in his heart was “like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones” (Jer. 20:9). He could not hold within himself the word that Lord had put in his heart. 

When others denounced him, though, he still knew that the Lord was with him “like a mighty warrior” (Jer. 20:11). The prophet leaned on the Lord, trusted Him to carry out vengeance in His time, and sought to wait on His justice. He even praised the Lord in song even when he knew enemies surrounded him: “Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked” (Jer. 20:13). Ministry was difficult, but still the prophet praised the One who was his mighty warrior. His faith gave him confidence. 

But, Jeremiah’s message quickly turned to despair — depression, even — when he lamented the very day he was born: “Cursed be the day I was born!” (Jer. 20:14). Lest we judge him too severely, though, I’m reminded that his work really was difficult. He was announcing judgment on God’s city and God’s people. The message was a hard one. Others weren’t listening to him. Instead, they ridiculed the prophet of God. Jeremiah’s obedience brought only grief, and his human heart waffled between faith and despair. 

That’s when we who lead God’s church must lean on our calling. The ministry can be agonizing, but God’s calling is ever in front of us. The fire still burns in our bones. The message remains clear. And the God who called us still reigns on His throne. 

So, we press on in faith. 

ACTION STEPS: 

  • If you’re a church leader ready to give up, be honest with God about your feelings — and then keep going.  
  • Pray for the pastors you know. Ask God to give them confidence even when they struggle.                         

PRAYER: “Lord, help me to stay faithful even when it seems like no one’s listening. Be my warrior today, and I will praise You.”     

TOMORROW’S READING: Jeremiah 21-24

**Note: I am repeating this devotion from 2016 in light of several friends who are bearing struggles of ministry today.