A friend of mine once said, “You can pray or you can worry, but you cannot do both at the same time.” We might likewise say, “You can have faith or you can be afraid, but you cannot do both at the same time.” Centuries after Jeremiah’s time, First John would record, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (4:18).
Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry took place during the forty years before Jerusalem and Judah were attacked and conquered, when many survivors were exiled to Babylon. It was a fearful time. Judah’s kings made desperate alliances trying to save the nation and refused to trust in God’s protection.
God calls Jeremiah to keep Israel on God’s path. Jeremiah is fearful and tries to refuse. It does not work. It never works.
Since God calls the prophet to speak God’s words and not his own, Jeremiah has no choice. He has to trust the one who calls him. He speaks what has been given. Jeremiah’s prophetic attempts do not save his nation and people from attack, defeat, and exile, but he keeps the light of faith burning through years of defeat and darkness.
As I write these words, the daily news coming from Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine could make us fear for the future. By the time you read this, the names of the countries may differ, but the stories will be much the same.
Our world is a dark place. God offers light. We whose lives have been illuminated by God’s light must offer it boldly to others, never fearing the outcome.
We know who holds the future.
The whole world is in your hands, O God. Even as your words spoke all things into being, your Word will be the last word. Keep us praying through the darkness until your eternal light prevails. Amen.
The Luke text portrays the healing that Jesus has just performed as a call to decision, a call to “repentance and changed lives.” Hebrews proclaims to the readers that they “have come . . . to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” For Luke, Jesus and his wonderful works signal the accessibility of God’s transforming power and thus signal also the time for repentance. The accessibility of God’s transforming power is evident in the lessons from Jeremiah and the psalm, although Jeremiah has no choice! And amid opposition from the wicked, the psalmist af rms what Jeremiah had been told by God—that his life from its very beginning has belonged to God.
• Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. God offers light to a world covered in darkness. Where do you see God’s light in your life? How can you offer this light to others?
• Read Psalm 71:1-6. When in your life have you turned to God for refuge? How did trust in God help the situation?
• Read Hebrews 12:18-29. We belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. How does that realization help during dif cult times?
• Read Luke 13:10-17. How do the limitations we experience turn us to the power and grace of God?
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