If I say, “I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Jeremiah 20:9

 

Let’s just say that life had not been going very well for Jeremiah. He had been beaten and placed in the stocks at the city gate. In other words, his speaking of God’s truth was causing him a lot of pain. Most of us experience times in our lives and situations where speaking our boldly about our faith is not taken well. There are places where others look down on us for believing in God. Sometimes our careers seem to be threatened if we are identifiable as Christians. In far too many areas of the world, proclaiming faith in Christ is a crime, and sharing that faith can bring a sentence of death from the courts. Although it certainly wasn’t illegal to speak of Yahweh in Judah, it was practically so; for, telling the plain truth of God’s will for the people was what was causing all of Jeremiah’s pain and grief.

 

However and in spite of all of his suffering, Jeremiah can not be silent. He is like that person who just talks and then continues to talk until no one is listening anymore. The difference with Jeremiah is that his words are coming straight from God, and those words cut through all of the protective layers of culture, power, and human logic. They speak about the way that God views our thoughts and our actions. The words of the Lord tell us the truth about the way that we are living, and they also provide us with the eternal wisdom of God which will lead us into the peace that is found only in the righteous center of His will. It does not seem that God’s Word intends for us to view Jeremiah as merely a great historical figure. He is an example of a person who listened to God and acted upon what he heard. He is also someone who encountered the backlash of the world to his outspoken faith and refused to be silenced regardless of what it might cost him.

 

So, back to Jeremiah’s simple yet profound thoughts about proclaiming Christ in the face of our world’s indifference and antagonism. His attempts at silence are answered by God’s Spirit. He causes something to happen in Jeremiah’s heart and mind that makes him feel as if he were being set on fire from the center of his bones. It seems to him that his marrow has become molten lava. Only that heat is not destructive. Instead, it is the unquenchable fire of God’s Word that demands proclamation. He realizes that any hardship or distress that he might endure as a result of speaking out about God and His desired way of living for our world is like nothing at all in comparison to the personal, soul-deep pain that he feels from not following His Lord’s will. In all of this Jeremiah is a very real example of how we should respond to a world that is bent on denying God. Lord, my prayer is that the same fire would burn in my bones and that its outlet will be your truth proclaimed boldly and continually throughout my days.