Jeremiah 45:1-5: God Will Help Us To Stand In Suffering

God Will Help Us To Stand In Suffering

Jeremiah 45:1-5        Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 45:5         4-6-18

“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”

Dear Lord, thank you for strengthening me through your words in Jeremiah. Help me learn your word and stand on it as a solid foundation in this world of shifting sand. Shed your light in me through this passage. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Part 1: The Sorrow Of A Servant Of God’s Word (1-3)

Verses 1-3, “When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’”

This chapter is going back to an earlier time when Baruch and Jeremiah were ministering to King Jehoiakim. The people if Jerusalem had not yet been taken into exile. When one studies Jeremiah they need to be careful because the chapters are not in chronological order. They jump around to different times in Jeremiah’s ministry to four kings of Judah.

Baruch was Jeremiah’s co-worker in ministry. He shared in the ministry of the word by writing on a scroll the words of the Lord dictated by Jeremiah. It was hard, but very important work. Sometimes he was called to speak to the people. He suffered along with Jeremiah.

Here are some examples of how he suffered. Do you remember when he was told to write the words of God, spoken through Jeremiah, on a scroll and he had to speak these words to the king? The king listened and cut off pieces of the scroll while it was being read and burned it. Baruch had to do the whole thing over again. There was a time when both Jeremiah and Baruch were arrested for speaking God’s message. When Baruch saw the negative response of the people to God’s word, he was under a lot of stress. He was cried out “Woe to me!” He was in deep, emotional pain. He felt worn out. He was groaning. He needed rest but could not find it. He was in such distress and grief.

God heard his groans. Look at verses 2b-3 again. God heard all of his groans. God was concerning over him and his suffering. He was strengthening him throughout the decades as he served in the ministry.

It is not easy to present the word of God faithfully to the people, especially when they reject it. There are times when you despair and want to give up. You can see this many times in the Bible. Think about Elijah who was so stressed out that he wanted die. 1 Kings 19:3-5 reads, “3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”

God was with Elijah. He came to him, fed him and encouraged him with his words. Look at 1 Kings 19:13b-18, “Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” God fed Elijah. He listened to him. He encouraged him and gave him clear direction as to what do do. God did this without taking away his suffering. He was strengthening him in it.

Experiencing suffering as we live as preachers of God’s word is never easy. It is not something we can avoid either. Suffering comes. God never promises that he will alleviate the suffering either. He only promises to be with us and to strengthen us along the way.

I headed up a small house church for fourteen years. It was not easy to continually write and preach the word of God, especially when it seems that so few people wanted to hear it. There are people close to me who have not wanted to hear the Gospel from me for the last 32 years since I have been a Christian. With all the pressures of work, raising a family and ministry I despaired of life itself many times. But I must confess that Jesus has always been with me. He has always heard my groans and strengthened me. He has always given me clear direction in life and ministry. But one thing that Jesus has not done, is, he has not taken away hardships. Instead he has refined my faith through them. Let’s think about this more.

Part 2: God Shows Us How To Stand (4-5)  

Verses 4-5, “4 But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. 5 Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”

Jeremiah gave God’s message to Baruch. Baruch was under much duress. He was almost incapacitated by the suffering he was experiencing. What was his problem? I think that what was happening to Baruch was a normal human response. Think about how much he had to bear. He was persecuted. People tried to arrest him. He was forcibly taken from his homeland. Of course, he was despaired of life!

People are human. The can only take so much. Even the strongest person cannot take the stresses of life and ministry all the time. Outwardly, they may not look like are enduring the suffering will, but they are not. Usually prolonged suffering reveals itself in depression. Sometimes it reveals itself in anger to those close to us. The point is, we all wear out and we all need help from our Savior.

God did not take away the suffering. He did not transport Baruch and Jeremiah to a resort on the shores of the Red Sea. No. They remained with their people, suffering with them and being rejected by them also. It was God’s will for them to stay just where they were and keep doing what they were called to do.

When we cry out to God we expect a cessation to the suffering. But this may not be the will of God. Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 9:23-25, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”  We have a cross to bear. God will not take it away. But he does promises enough grace for us to strand up under it.

How can we overcome when we are suffering? I think we can find some pointers in this passage.

First, accept God’s sovereignty. Look at verse 4. “This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth.” God is the sovereign Lord. He is in control. He builds and uproots. His sovereign reign is over all the earth.  And this all powerful, sovereign Lord, is our God who is with us and who cares for us even when we are suffering. Faith in this God gives us power to overcome.

Second, stop thinking about ways to seek your own gain. Look at verse 5a, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them….” We suffering a lot because of our own selfish desires. We are unhappy because we don’t get what we want. It is OK to build a life for yourself and your family. But there are times when we need to stop seeking great things for yourself and seek the Lord instead. There are times when you must seek to take care of your own people. We are commemorating the death to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. He could have lived a comfortable, secure life as a reverend. But God called him to a mission to fight for civil rights for African American people. He knew that there would be unbearable suffering, jail, persecution and even death. He was not seeking great things for himself. He was following God’s will and seeking God’s glory and he was trying to help his people.

Third, accept God’s judgement on the matters. Look at verse 5b, “…For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord…” God’s message for a rebellious people was one of impending disaster and judgment. It was painful for God to punish his people so severely, for he had loved them so much. But for Baruch, acceptance is the key. A person needs to accept that what is happening is happening for a good purpose. That purpose may be because of judgment. Struggling to make sense of everything will only make a person insane. There is a time when a person must accept things under God’s sovereignty and trust God

Fourth, the fact that God keeps you alive is enough. Look at verse 5, “….but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’” Baruch may have felt that he was going to die. But God promised he would spare his life. That was sufficient grace at this time in Baruch’s life. We need to stop expecting the world and simply be happy that we are alive and growing in God. People are not content with this. But it is true. We should open our eyes every morning and say, “Thank God I am alive and my life is in his hands.”

We need to know that even though we are suffering we are not going to die until God wants to take us home to be with him in heaven. Christians live in dangerous situations, yes. They live in places where they can get killed. But they must not fear. God is with them. Because of God’s hand they will escape with their life, until the time that God wants to bring them home. With this basic faith we can overcome fear and the hardships that we face.

Prayer: “Lord, there are times when my heart is fully of agony and I want to give up. It is hard to keep speaking your word to the people. Help me stand as your servant and overcome the hardships by your power and grace.”

One Word: God gives us grace to stand as his servants.

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