It pricks your heart when you realize the depth of suffering the Lord’s servants endured. And yet, they remained faithful to delivering His Word.
Take Jeremiah, for example.
Reading through this thick Book certainly reaps respect for this man—for therein we discover an exemplary devotion to God which was sacrificial, to say the least.
The poor guy was opposed, rejected, and ignored. He was beaten, jailed, and tortured. He was put in stocks, thrown into a pit, and hauled off to Egypt. And that’s not even the exhaustive list!
Some of his recorded prayers reveal his honest questions to God (4:10). And his laments indicate the extent to which he agonized over the state of affairs. But when God gave him a message, he delivered—even in the face of known enemies, sure to retaliate.
He believed God!
Jeremiah doesn’t stand alone. Much of the same can be said of all of God’s prophets. And apostles.
They had a fear of the Lord far greater than that of man. For some had seen His glory—a glory undeniable. How can you possibly refuse Him after that?! Which may be precisely why He has chosen to conceal it. Because love demands an honest choice, uncoerced by overwhelming glory.
“I am with you and will save you,” declares the Lord. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”
Jeremiah heeded the Lord in faithful obedience, even though he was given hard sayings to deliver of doom, destruction, and captivity. Words no one wanted to hear. He didn’t just preach, “Return to God and you will be blessed.” No! He had the courage and conviction to preach the whole truth. And not just in ideal settings, to agreeable people. He was faithful to deliver the whole counsel of God—not just the pleasing and comfortable portion of God’s message that wouldn’t confront or offend.
We can scan history and note other disciples who were faithful to speak God’s words but were met with persecution. There was Polycarp, an early Christian martyr from Smyrna. William Tyndale and John Wycliffe, 14th century theologians and biblical translators. In the 1940’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, was imprisoned and executed under the Nazi regime. There are the accounts of the American missionary team killed in Ecuador in 1956, Jim Elliott counted among them. And, more recently, the Groenewald family from South Africa who were killed in 2014 in Kabul while serving as medical missionaries. These few barely scratch the surface of the sacrificially faithful.
Emboldened by the Spirit with a faith unstoppable, these, and countless others, possessed a conviction, courage, and commitment to faithfully deliver a word from the Lord.
Just as God promised to be with Jeremiah, and to put His words in his mouth (1:6, 10), He has done so for all His servants. He has promised to be with us and to write His Words upon our hearts, as well.
The king may have destroyed Jeremiah’s writings, but they were God’s Words—which have endured and accomplished all He intended. As they continue to do so.
The biblical record speaks to the faithfulness of Jeremiah to do the hard things required of him. And it speaks to the faithfulness of God—the same God we serve today.