Two godly men were unjustly imprisoned, but their responses to suffering were quite different.
Today’s reading: Jeremiah 20-22; 2 Timothy 1
7 O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. 8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. Jeremiah 20:7-8
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6-7
As we saw yesterday, God is the potter and we are the clay. That does not mean that we, who trust in and love Him, will automatically have smooth sailing through life. Both Jeremiah and Paul were imprisoned despite their faithfulness to God’s calling, but notice how differently they responded to their situations.
Jeremiah (ch. 20) was beaten and imprisoned by a priest named Pashur. The next day, upon his release from the stocks, the prophet told Pashur that he would watch his friends die, then, he would go into captivity and die also. So Jeremiah seemed to be unaffected by Pashur’s oppression. Nevertheless, following that episode, the prophet records his lament before God. He says the Lord “deceived” him. He was given a calling and a message from God which he could not silence in himself, lest he explode. As a result of his obedience, he was the joke of society, the village idiot on a national level.
Paul also was suffering imprisonment in Rome as he wrote his final epistle. There is some sadness and longing to see Timothy, but no blaming of God. His focus is still on charging and encouraging Timothy to continued faithfulness in the ministry. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed of my suffering,” Paul writes him. Paul assures him of his love and prayers, of God’s blessing Timothy with His Spirit, His Word, a godly heritage, salvation, and a calling to His service.
How do you respond to undeserved suffering? Two faithful servants of the Lord demonstrate that whether you vent before God like Jeremiah or calmly keep serving Him like Paul, God is the potter and He will not let you go until He has made of you what He wills and used you as He pleases. Stay faithful, even if you suffer injustice for His sake.