Summary: Life’s dark times can pull us in all directions and produce all sorts of feelings; we must cling God during those bleak experiences.
Surviving Life’s Dark Times
1. After Jeremiah’s trip to the pottery shop, he had been commanded to assemble the elders and leaders of the city and smash a completed piece of pottery to pieces before them. Then he preached a message that God was going to do just that with Jerusalem.
2. This was the last straw for the priest in charge of the Temple guard. He was determined to do SOMETHING about this.
3. As a result, Jeremiah would experience his first instance of physical persecution, a dark time for the young prophet. Let’s read our text.
Main Idea: Life’s dark times can pull us in all directions and produce all sorts of feelings; we must cling God during those bleak experiences.
I. Jeremiah Experienced DARK Desperation (20:1-18)
Do you ever feel like you are a leftover from a previous era? Treated like a dinosaur.
In Jeremiah’s day, Judaism had been compromised to accommodate paganism. Jeremiah was a remnant from the school of the faithful. He was not alone. But some of the godly minority, like Daniel, Shadrach, and Abednego had already been deported to Babylon.
A. Jeremiah EXPERIENCES beating, imprisonment, and torture (1-6)
• The "stocks" were not just for restraining….
• Later in his life, Jeremiah would be dropped into a muddy cistern but rescued before he died; then, he would be imprisoned while the Babylonians attacked.
• Even the people Jeremiah thought were his friends turned on him. One of the most emotionally painful experiences in life is to be betrayed by your friends.
• Persecuted believers are often made to feel isolated, alone. But if they know their friends are praying for them, it helps them endure.
• Jeremiah was just a "functionary" to his friends…
• So, when Jeremiah was an "esteemed" prophet, he had friends. When the authorities turned on him, so did his friends.
B. Jeremiah’s FRUSTRATION: suffering for serving God (7-10)
Jeremiah felt like God had deceived Him. God put a burning desire within Him to proclaim His Word, and Jeremiah assumed that great blessing would accompany such a call: but God had not promised him a bed of roses.
I Corinthians 9:16, "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"
C. Jeremiah’s counter-intuitive choice to WORSHIP (11-13)
• You need to worship most when you feel like it least.
• "hidden motives and thoughts" literally is "kidneys and heart." (12)
D. Jeremiah’s wish that he had never been BORN (14-18)
• Job had similar thoughts (Job 3:11,16,)
• This is not the same as thoughts of suicide…and certainly not the same as planning suicide, which is even worse.
• Is it okay for Christians to sometimes feel like they wish they had never been born? Yes.
• But it is no mindset to maintain. God wants our lives to be characterized by joy, but, as Solomon says, there is a time for everything under the sun. We go through the full range of feelings in our lifetimes.
Life’s dark times can pull us in all directions and produce all sorts of feelings; we must cling God during those bleak experiences.
II. Dark Times Are TOUGH to Survive
A. You are human and not ALONE
Individuals going through times of great trial feel so alone and isolated.
• We don’t know what’s normal unless we are very socially and relationally connected…the more of a loner we are, the more handicapped we are
• Your intelligence, bank account, giftedness, or social standing do not take away your humanity…so let down your guard and be human
B. We might regret our EXISTENCE
When I was a boy, I would watch the space launches on TV. The rockets were in three phases. As it got so high, the lowest section of the rocket would drop off. Then the second section would drop off until only the capsule would remain. It took all three sections to have a successful manned space launch. An enjoyable life is similar.
• There are 3 elements that affect how much we enjoy life: happiness (which is often dependent upon friends and social participation), meaning (which is dependent upon purpose), and positive experiences: events, the arts, sports, hobbies, interests, or thrills, which give us "lifts" in varying degrees.
• In our text today, Jeremiah had his happiness squelched: he suffered pain, humiliation, and the destruction of his friendships. He had no positive experiences.
• But he still had meaning, purpose. And he would eventually make new friends and experience times of happiness after this experience. But note how steady meaning can be.
• Meaning can carry you through many gloomy traumas. And nothing gives you meaning more than the belief that you are created in God’s image for His pleasure and that your life matters because it matters to God, your Creator and Redeemer. Additionally, if you have a heart for rearing, providing or influencing children, serving your country or community, and serving God and building His Kingdom, you will be motivated to endure those rough times.