The young 'un and I are reading about Jeremiah. That poor, poor man. God gave him this depressing message to deliver to the people of Judah -- you're going down. You screwed up. God'll bring you back eventually, but things are going to get really bad here, really soon.
Obviously, nobody wanted to hear this. He was beaten -- put in stocks -- thrown in prison -- thrown down a well, for Pete's sake. The other "prophets" contradicted him and tickled the people's ears. "Oh, no -- the Lord's going to give us victory over the Babylonians! You just wait and see! Jeremiah's full of it." The king burned the scroll of the word Jeremiah received from the Lord, a piece at a time as it was read. Harsh.
But the man kept on keeping on. Not that he didn't complain. He did. But he didn't quit. He kept right on doing exactly what the Lord told him to do, even when it looked like his "mission" was a complete failure. No one was listening to him. No one cared. No one even liked him.
How does a person do that? Keep going in the face of failure, I mean? I remember hearing someone say once that God has not called us to success, God has called us to obedience -- meaning that sometimes we can be right smack dab in the center of God's will for our lives and it will look like nothing is working right. When you're in those situations, how can you be confident that you really are right smack dab in the center of God's will for your life? How was Jeremiah so sure that he was hearing God right and the other prophets were wrong?
I'd kind of like to think that, you know, he was one of those great prophets of old who just had a secret line to God somehow and knew this stuff for certain. But I know better. Folks in the Bible were very real and very normal. In fact, Jeremiah sounds a lot like me sometimes. "If only I had died within the womb . . . cursed be the day that I was born . . . " (OK, I don't get that morbid, folks, but I do get depressed.)
Some days it discourages me to read about the perseverance of a Jeremiah and realize what a wimp I am. And then other days, it encourages me to know that wimps like me and Jeremiah can be given the power to persevere.