Jeremiah didn’t sign up to be a prophet of God like the prophet Isaiah did. This was not a “here am I, send me” situation since God called Jeremiah to be His witness from the womb. Jeremiah didn’t have a choice, he had to obey God. Now he was commanded to prophesy very bad news. The besieged holy city of Jerusalem must surrender to the Chaldeans and serve Nebuchadnezzar for seventy years. Israel was to voluntarily give themselves up to slavery.
(Imagine American Christians being told that by a prophet of God today!)
The weeping Jeremiah gave the message and what was the outcome of such courageous obedience? Jeremiah was thrown in prison.
God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac on Mt. Moriah. Can you imagine? For three days, three agonizing days Abraham prepared for this journey of personal horror.
Imagine the sweat streaming down the old man’s brow and his arm muscles trembling as he split the wood for the sacrifice his son would be slaughtered and burnt upon? The terrifying heartbreak at each step to the top of the mount of Moriah he ascended with his two servants and his son. The sun was blistering down upon them. This excruciating work of struggling up a mountain, so that at the end of the journey of being obedient to God, you would be destroying your entire life. You would be killing your only son.
As Christ wiped the blood for His forehead and stood bravely and resolutely in the garden that night, He didn’t simply walk to the Cross and die.
Crucifixion was the end of the journey of obedience to His Father. But until the Cross, He endured an eternity of humiliation and cruelty in those few hours.
He was tortured with all the fury that hell was allowed. Every evil force was unleashed upon the kind Savior as he made his way up the to top of Scull hill. He walked a thousand miles on the Via Dolorosa with unimaginable grief and the weight of all the sins of mankind upon His spirit.
Like with Jeremiah, and Abraham and many other great men of God, it was not merely the end of the story that was seeming failure and heartbreak. Knowing the end, one was called to persevere under the most trying and difficult circumstanced to get to the painful end.
Has Christ called you to a personal crucifixion of your deepest desires? When you really look at what you want in your life and realize that your goals are not in line with who God is calling you to be, you may make that ultimate sacrifice and die to self and hand the end over to God. But often, if we decide to follow Christ and give up our all to follow Him in obedience, we see the end of our earthly lives and know that it is not what we chose. We then are tempted to expect God to make the journey to His purpose easy.
“I sure didn’t want to become a priest and live a life of celibacy, but if that’s what God’s asking me to do, then He better give me a lot of perks along the way... for my sacrifice.”
Or: “Since I gave up my career in law to follow Christ (if God truly asked the person to give it up) then I better be rich doing something else. I better get a great life for my sacrifice.”
We all are tempted to think such things. But even Job, after God took everything from him and restored it later, would never stop grieving for his children. He carried pain with him. He would not have chosen the end of his life even with the reward.
Jesus didn’t call us to sacrifice and promise the road of obedience to that sacrifice would be easy. He has called us to take up our cross daily. Each day will have its fill of troubles even when we are obedient.... especially because we are obedient.
Walking in obedience to God when you understand the pain of the self-sacrificing finish is impossible for the human. It demands the miraculous grace to walk the day to day journey to that end.
Do not add to the burdens of life by believing if God loved you He would make your life comfortable and easy. Take courage by the saints of the old and new Testaments. Persist in sacrificial obedience to Christ even when the Christian road is full of thorns and stumbling blocks.
Each tear, each bruise, each stumble we are uniting in the sufferings of Christ and coming closer to Him. He is there with kindness and mercy carrying our cross with us. The richness of suffering will bear thirty fold in its fruits.