Summary: The Lord will ransom and redeem His own.
Empowerment has something to do with ennoblement, resourcing, re-positioning properly for performance etc. Empowerment as a key component in human development takes place not only in spirituality but other areas such as academic (intellectual empowerment), economic (economic empowerment), social (social/relational empowerment) and political empowerment. The concept further suggests a state of limitation, not perfect, incomplete and confrontation with individuals’ inabilities. It must be noted that empowerment does not make much relevance if an individual does not accept/admit his/her challenges. Admission of one’s difficulties is a major prerequisite for the possibility of empowerment taking effect.
JEREMIAH: THE WEEPING PROPHET?
Jeremiah had a very noble birth and beginning and therefore one would have expected his life and ministry to follow suit. In Jer. 1:4- 5 we are told of the testimony concerning his birth. The word of the Lord came to me saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Not only did he have a great beginning but there was no uncertainty about the authenticity and genuineness of his calling and ministry. One would have expected that the life and ministry of such a prophet would be very smooth and wonderful. Ironically, Jeremiah has been known in Scripture as the ‘Weeping Prophet’. He as a weeping prophet did not only weep on the sins of the nations but his own struggles and challenges in ministry as well. He made several attempts not to preach the Word of God but the Lord will not allow him.
GOD’S PLANS AND THE POTTERS HOUSE EXPERIENCE
In his difficult state Jeremiah knew that he and the people of God were within the plan of God. In Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Moreover, his experience at the potter’s house as recorded in Jer. 18 1-6 demonstrates that no matter the state of his limitations, difficulty, frustrations as long as he was in the potters hands he could keep hope alive. The weeping prophet seemed to be empowered by such lessons and experiences. He therefore became a channel of hope unto many when in Jer 31:11 he declared For the Lord will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
To ransom means to deliver, to save, to snatch out of danger, to rescue, to bring back to former positions, to redeem, to glorify, to ransom is to restore and empower. The weeping prophet says the Lord will ransom not only that but He will redeem His people from the hand of those stronger than they. We all as a people may have things, events and people who may be stronger than us at some points in our life. It may be in the form of fear, poverty, disease, failure, satanic attacks, death, enemies, subordinates or superiors etc. For the Lord to redeem and ransom from those stronger than us is a message of hope, strength and empowerment. The state, ministry and message of the weeping prophet have known some tremendous power and strength at this stage. His empowerment now brings hope and strength to those who have fallen victims into the hands of those stronger than they are. We all need to be redeemed and ransomed but we have some practical lessons to learn from Jeremiah.
SPIRITUAL EMPOWERMENT: SOME LESSONS FROM THE WEEPING PROPHET
In our desire to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah has some important lessons to teach us. As individuals, Christian workers, family members, professionals etc. we may have our own personal or institutional challenges. Sometimes we allow the difficulties to divide, break or destroy us. In fact, they are the very things that qualify us for empowerment. We must notice that suffering is also part of God’s gifts to humankind. The process of spiritual empowerment includes acknowledgement of divine presence, provision, wisdom, power and love.
1. Divine Presence
If I know that the Lord is present with me I will listen to Him and that is how He will teach me the lessons about His plans and the potters house lessons of hope.
2. Divine Provision
If I admit that the Lord is my provider, then even in my weeping stage I will look up to Him and constantly depend on Him for comfort and strength. That is what will make renewal and revival possible. After all He is the one who gives power for His own to succeed Dt. 8:18.
3. Divine Wisdom
If I am conscious of the fact that He is prepared to teach me new ways of doing the old things, then I will not allow my experiences and ignorance to have a better part of me. I will go to Him for the renewal of my mind daily and function with the knowledge and wisdom that He provides.