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Bitter Vocation View video
Jeremiah 20:7 - 20:18
7. You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived ; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.
8. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long.
9. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
10. I hear many whispering, "Terror on every side! Report him! Let's report him!" All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, "Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him."
11. But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12. LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.
13. Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.
14. Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
15. Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, "A child is born to you--a son!"
16. May that man be like the towns the LORD overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon.
17. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever.
18. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?
Reflection
Bones on Fire (20:7–10)
When Jeremiah was first called to be a prophet to the nations, the LORD overpowered him, and Jeremiah felt as though he was deceived by God. Now, Jeremiah laments that being God’s spokesman has only brought him ridicule and trouble. The people in the community are simply waiting for him to slip so that they can take their revenge on him. But Jeremiah cannot ignore his responsibility to speak God’s words, for they are like a fire raging in his bones that he cannot withhold. The servant of God is chosen by God to say what many may not want to hear. When God lays a message on our hearts that someone needs to hear, let us pray for the courage to be faithful to this calling.

Hope and Despair (20:11–18)
Jeremiah recounts God’s promises and His mightiness to save him from trouble. He looks forward to the day when those wishing him harm will fall by the LORD’s righteous vengeance. At the same time, however, his bitter work as a prophet must continue. He has been chosen to shoulder a painful burden. Like Job, who suffered horrendously in order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled, Jeremiah curses the day of his birth. For Jeremiah, being set apart from his mother’s womb to be God’s instrument has been excruciating, so not being born was the only way that he thought he could escape it. The work of ministry can be frustrating, lonely, and sometimes dangerous. Let us always pray for strength to endure what comes to us as we minister to one another.
Application
- When have you been compelled to share a message that was not popular? How did God give you the strength to go through with it?

- Who are some ministers you know that have suffered for the Lord’s sake? How can you, like them, endure what comes to you as you minister to those around you today?
A Letter to God
Father, thank you for choosing and sending ministers that endure so much to serve You. Give them the strength and joy they need to be a blessing, and help me to be a blessing as well. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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