Matters of Faith: I Almost Quit

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

Jeremiah 20:7-9 KJV
“O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”

If you have ever felt that your efforts were completely ineffective, your words of encouragement were completely ignored, or your wise council was totally disregarded, you might have an inkling of what the prophet Jeremiah felt.

This prophet was but a youth when the Lord enlisted him as a messenger. He was commanded not to marry or have children so that the people would know that God’s disappointment with them would result in their next generation being carried away. These things touched the heart of Jeremiah so much so that he is known as the weeping prophet. Nothing was more important to him than the salvation of his people who had slipped into worshiping idols, and it was their leaders who were at the forefront of their departure from the way of the Lord. Jeremiah was stern with them. The vernacular today would say he gave it to them “straight with no chaser!” He prayed, gave them words of warning, severely rebuked their behavior, and preached the word of God without compromise. He condemned the rulers, denounced the priests, criticized the false prophets, and he held the people individually accountable for their actions. He says that it was the Lord who forced him to speak so boldly. You can imagine, his position did not result in Jeremiah having a lot of admirers, friends, or supporters.

In the more than 40 years of his ministry, the rulers, the priests, the prophets, and the people, scorned, mocked, disregarded, laughed at, falsely accused, imprisoned, starved, and physically abused him. They not only dismissed him, but made him the laughingstock of the city and the whipping boy for ridicule and scorn. It took a toll on Jeremiah. He regrets that the Lord ever called him to be His messenger.

Despite having been ordained a prophet by God before he was in his mother’s womb (1:5), the humanity of the man caused him to declare he will no longer speak anything of the Lord. He was done! It was over! Never again would he speak the word of God! The Bible interjects a conjunction here. The word “but,” changes the course of the conversation and reaffirmed Jeremiah’s conviction. While he is struggling with his emotional dilemma, his very challenging situation, all that’s wrong in his life, he says, “I can’t quit! The Word of God is like fire shut up in my bones and it must be let loose. I cannot keep it to myself.”

Jeremiah is a great example, not just for those who have been called into service to the glory of God, but for anyone who has made a commitment to do something that will stretch them to dimensions they have never experienced. We are reminded that the road will not be without challenge, some of which will be so severe that we think it cannot be endured. Our reaction might be to quit, to give in or to give up. Jeremiah thought he too would quit, but it was God’s “word in my heart…, like fire that burns in my bones, and I can’t hold it in any longer (TLB).

What about you? If you’re close to quitting, think about the final words found in John Greenleaf Whittier’s famous poem, ‘Don’t Quit‘: So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit— It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book. eBook available at SmashWords.

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