The fearless prophet Jeremiah, a powerful preacher of holiness and repentance, had the mind of God and walked in the fear of the Lord. Yet, as we read Jeremiah 20, we find this great man suffering a horrible eclipse of faith.
Jeremiah was preaching at the temple gate when a Satan-possessed priest, Pashhur, marched up and slapped his face. Then Pashhur ordered his men to drag Jeremiah off and lock him in a public stock, where he was mocked by passing crowds. When he was released, Jeremiah pronounced God’s judgment on Pashhur and his followers: “You, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity” (Jeremiah 20:6). In other words, “Pashhur, you and this city are going down!”
As soon as this happened, a darkness of soul descended on Jeremiah and he collapsed in discouragement. The once-penetrating holiness preacher now vented dark feelings toward God: “Lord, You deceived me. The word you gave me has become a reproach and every day I am being ridiculed. You have abandoned me, so I’m quitting you. I am not going to speak your Word anymore because all your promises are empty. My life and ministry have ended in shame. You should have killed me in the womb” (see Jeremiah 20:7-9, 17).
Did Jeremiah cross a line here? How could such language come out of anyone who claims to serve God? We find our answer in the very next chapter: “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord” (Jeremiah 21:1). The prophet’s eclipse of faith passed and God did not miss a beat. He is always aware of the devices and attacks Satan uses against his most effective servants and he knew Jeremiah would endure. God understood that Jeremiah’s cries came out of confusion and pain and Scripture makes it clear that not for a single moment did God lift his anointing from him.
You may have felt that God has let you down. Be aware that the devil is behind these doubts and he is absolutely determined to block your vision of God’s mercy and grace. But reach out to your Father and rest in his love with the assurance that he has never left you.
“God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). All believers are given a portion or degree of faith and that portion must be built up into an unshakable, unwavering faith. How does this happen? As faith grows, it is strengthened in one way only: by hearing and trusting in God’s Word.
The Lord would never ask us to do what is impossible. It is possible for us to stir ourselves to ask, “Why am I so fearful? Why am I on this roller coaster of up-and-down despair? Why does the future cause panic in my soul?” It is because we have not fully committed our lives, our families, our health, our jobs, our homes into God’s faithful hands. We have not made the leap of faith that determines, “My Lord is true and faithful. Though I have failed countless times, he has never failed me. Come what may, I will cast my life and future into his care.”
How are we able to do this? By embracing the word he has given us. Right now, the world is in great turbulence and God has said to us, “My Word is in you and you are covered under the shadow of my hand. You are my child.” “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope” (Acts 2:25-26).
I urge you to make this power word from Isaiah your own: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. … But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
God never sleeps and his arm is always outstretched on behalf of you, his beloved child.
“Blessed be the … God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). All over the world, people are going through sufferings and trials and the Lord has promised to comfort us in them. Notice that nothing is said here about deliverance from the battle; we are told only that the Holy Spirit gives us comfort to endure and stay steadfast in our trial.
This comfort, provided by the Spirit in the midst of our troubles, is not simply a temporary lifting of the burden. It is not a sigh of relief, a shutting out of troubling thoughts or fears. Rather, it is supernatural. Such comfort is the exclusive ministry of the Holy Spirit, accomplished by faith as we trust in his love for us.
Scripture tells us, “You will comfort those in Zion. You will have a word of healing for those who are in despair and fear” (see Isaiah 61:2-3). In response to our faith, God’s Spirit promises to create something in us that will bring comfort in every conceivable trouble and fearsome circumstance. He will put in us a word that can heal, comfort and encourage others.
The Spirit said through Isaiah, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him … I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace” (Isaiah 57:18-19). This is one of the most encouraging promises in God’s Word. The Lord says he will drive out from us the spirit of fear and implant in us his supernatural spirit of peace. Isaiah repeats the word “peace” here to emphasize it is a continual peace. Simply put, the Holy Spirit promises, “I will create peace in you.”
As the gathering clouds cause fear in the world, may you walk according to this word from Paul: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Amen!
At Passover, Jesus turned aside to the bold disciple Peter and revealed, “Peter, Satan has demanded that I turn you over to him that he may shake your very life.”
“The Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.’ Then He said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me’” (Luke 22:31-34).
Peter boasted of having an unfailing faith in front of the other disciples, “Lord, I will never doubt you. I would die first.” Satan was about to orchestrate a supernatural attack on Peter’s faith. To sift means to “shake violently.” Simply put, the devil wanted to shake the foundations of Peter’s faith in the severest way possible.
Peter had declared his faith in Jesus’ divinity, saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), so his faith was genuine — which was the very reason the devil went after him. When we are in the midst of a trial, it is hard to see that we are in the fire due to our walk with Jesus. But Peter was about to become a pillar of God’s church, launching the gospel into the world at Pentecost, and you can be sure Satan was not going to let that happen without a fight.
Jesus knew the satanic onslaught to come upon Peter was aimed at his faith, so he prepared his disciple by telling him, “I have prayed for you.” Imagine — Jesus praying for you! Many of us may have experienced times of sifting, but few can imagine Satan’s attacks being so severe that we would be tempted to deny Jesus. What a comfort to know that even if we experience a time of a lapse of faith, Jesus is praying for us, bringing us back to strength so that we, in turn, can witness to others.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me from the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, my emphasis). Jesus prayed for his disciples — and that includes us. He asked the Father that we may see his glory, meaning that we would know him.
At certain times in the Old Testament, Jesus revealed himself in human or angelic form, with varying results. For instance, Jacob’s hip was broken when he tried wrestling with the Lord. And when Moses said to God, “Please show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18), the Lord told him, “I have to cover your face and hide you behind a rock, and then you can see only the trailing afterglow of my presence.” In other words, he had to protect Moses from the full revelation of himself.
In the New Testament, when the apostle John heard the Lord’s voice and received the Revelation on the island of Patmos, he fell on his face. The normal response of men and women when they saw Jesus was awe and wonder. I wonder what would happen if we saw him in all his beauty and splendor as Moses or John did.
The truth is, Jesus is beautiful in a sense far deeper than our usual usage of the descriptive word. We remark that someone is lovely or handsome, but Jesus is far more. He is glorious, wonderful, separate, unique, special. He is also tender, kind, precious, full of majesty. He is wondrous, strong, mighty, powerful, wise, outstanding. And he never fails!
Even in his human nature, Jesus remained sovereign, one with God (see Colossians 2:10). Consider some of his beautiful attributes: full of justice (John 8:16); perfectly righteous (John 8:46). And he is love (John 13:34) — a love that is unfathomable.
We are totally undeserving of this love, but that is the beauty of our amazing, incomparable Savior. Give him praise today for his unspeakable sacrifice and gift of salvation.