If you have been around the body of Christ for any amount of time, I am assuming that you have attended a conference or two, or maybe two dozen. There are so many positives about attending large Christian conferences, leadership weekends, and Christian gatherings.These events feature various leaders and voices within the larger body of Christ both nationally and internationally. I have personally been deeply impacted by some of these events and I have received key truths from God through leaders who have carried their message through the furnace of affliction. Many of these leaders have carried their message over many decades of faithfully serving God.
I have also been disillusioned at the same conferences, leadership weekends and larger Christian gathering’s, because I did not fully understand the ways of God. It’s not that these conferences and events were bad, but that many of the speakers didn’t share the full story of their lives including the hardships, not only the victories. After leaving these conferences I would often try the new principles and keys of explosive growth and breakthrough that I recently learned. Being a naïve young leader I would do the things I just learned while looking for the same success stories that I heard, and then not be able to understand the failures, and disappointments I was experiencing as well.
It’s common to listen to dynamic speakers that are shaping the world for Christ, only hearing about the successes and breakthrough’s within their ministries or businesses, while almost never hearing about the struggle, disappointment, failure, confusion and hardship that was also part of their success. It’s not that we need more sad stories of disappointment to spur us along in Christ, it’s that we need the proper perspective. We need to hear that along the road called success, there are multiple mile markers titled disappointment, confusion, hardship and failure.
Mike Bickle often says “your only one divine idea (plus rejection, years of waiting and a few prison sentences) away from billions of dollars and global impact for Jesus.” The story of Jeremiah the Prophet from the Old Testament is one of those stories. In Jeremiah 1:5 we read about his calling to be a prophet to the nations. Throughout the other 51 chapters of Jeremiah we see this calling getting worked out through difficulty, hardship, rejection, pain, and little victory in regards to people listening to his message and responding towards God.
In Jeremiah’s day, because of rebellion towards God and spiritual harlotry, God judges the entire nation by sending them as exiles and captives into the land of Babylon, under a wicked and oppressive leader. It’s here in this season of Israel’s history that God has anointed Jeremiah to speak to them. Instead of fleeing from the enemy, which would be the logical thing to do, God is going to speak through Jeremiah to the nation of Israel that those who remain in the city will die, but those who allow themselves to be taken captives and don’t resist Babylon will be saved (Jeremiah 21:8-9). This is such perplexing revelation to be required by God to share with others.
It’s here in Jeremiah 20:7-18 that we get a glimpse into what’s going on in the heart of this enduring prophet. Jeremiah says “ O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, violence and plunder! Because the Word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of Him,, nor speak His name. But His word was in my heart like a burning fire, shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not…”
Jeremiah is feeling a little tricked and slighted by the Lord in his current situation. It’s not that Jeremiah was unfaithful to the Lord by not sharing what God had given him to say, it’s just that when he shared this message, the people didn’t respond like he thought they would. Instead of using all their anger to repent and be reconciled with God, they used it to attack Jeremiah. This totally astounded Jeremiah, and as we have seen in the verse’s above, Jeremiah was ready to quit and not share God’s words again.
Saying yes to the call of God and the invitation to partnership with Him is usually very exciting in the introduction, but over time that same calling and invitation loses a little bit of its initial curbside appeal. The reason why it loses its appeal is because at the beginning we have no idea how hard it will be to accomplish and fulfill what it was God was asking us to do. This is the divine strategy of heaven. The Lord hooks us, just like Jeremiah initially says in Jeremiah 20:7. He says “O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I , and have prevailed…”
There’s also a dichotomy involved in this equation called fulfilling the will of God and being an enduring prophet. The dichotomy is that God doesn’t give us all the information about our future in Him up front. But He does give us some of the information, so that we don’t falsely assume our future road will be paved with roses. God gives us enough of the truth about our future that we aren’t totally shocked when hardship comes, but not all of the truth so that we shrink back and never get started.
God is raising up enduring prophets that walk through personal hardship, disappointments, struggles, rejection, derision, and confusion while still remaining faithful to Him and His calling on their lives. Much of what the Lord is speaking to the Body of Christ today is contrary to what many within the body want to hear. This means that those who speak to others and hold fast to the word of God and the whole counsel of the scriptures are prepared to suffer rejection, separation, persecution, and difficulty. Jesus said in John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” It’s clear through Jesus’ teaching that some will hate you for what you say, while others will love you for what you say.
For you and I to live our lives as enduring prophets we must have a right view of what our future in God is going to look like. Approaching our future in God and in this age without sobriety, seriousness, and weightiness is a recipe for disaster. Though this isn’t the strength of our calling, it’s certainly a part of it. Maybe your reading this today and feeling like all hell has broken loose in your life now that you are being faithful to God’s calling on your life. Just remember you aren’t the only who has stepped out, doing what God is asking you to do, or has struggled with doubt and unbelief. Jeremiah was ready to quit, but didn’t. He endured through his own confusion of trying to understand the ways of God.
Be encouraged through Jeremiah’s life today that you also can persist, stay steadfast and receive the reward of your labor from being faithful to the calling of God on your life.