Epiphany 3, Saturday, Year B

Inspired by Jeremiah 20:14-18 

“Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?” Jeremiah 20:18 (NRSV)

While we may want to believe that faith in Christ will spare us from all pain, suffering, turmoil or difficulty, the truth is that we still live in a fallen and sinful world, and the whole creation is groaning for redemption from bondage and decay. The difficulties of living in this world can seem overwhelming. Living as Christians who reject the values of the prevailing culture can cause us to suffer even more, because we can be perceived as threatening to other people’s comfortable way of life.

Such was the case with Jeremiah. Jeremiah called out these words of despair because he was being persecuted for obeying the word of the Lord, proclaiming the word to people who didn’t want to hear it. Jeremiah was overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair, and cursed the very day he was born. But that birth was no accident. For God had told him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God also promised him, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.”

The people who whom Jeremiah was speaking were hostile to his words, and fought against him. Yet Jeremiah himself knew that despite the suffering he experienced by obeying the Lord, the Lord was with him, and the One who created him would have the final word. And through the centuries and even millennia, the words of Jeremiah have brought many people comfort, and have shown us that hopelessness and despair are not signs of weak or faulty faith, but are just as much a part of being a faithful follower of God as confidence and certainty.

Let us pray. God our Comforter, you have promised to be with us. Comfort us with your loving grace, that we may not be defeated by the enemies of your will. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.