By Karen Polich
Imagine your worst day; that low point when you find yourself on the brink of a meltdown and your breaking point is staring right at you. It can strike from anywhere. Relationships, finances, work, a long list of to-do’s, setbacks, health and a multitude of other things can set things off. Darkness, desperation and despair sit all around you.
You are not alone! Jeremiah was intimate with the darkness found in low places. Jeremiah experienced what a horrible day looks like, and he was not alone. Called by God, Jeremiah was a prophet who shared what no one wanted to hear. (Read more here, Jeremiah 18-20) He had clear instructions to follow and his obedience put him in a place of despair. He felt humiliated and alone. Crying out to God, he finds himself in a pit, but still expresses trust in his lamentation.
Jeremiah 20: 7-10 (NIV)
7 You deceived[a] me, Lord, and I was deceived[b];
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 his word
or speak anymore 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!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce 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.”
In the midst of his pain, Jeremiah is doing something of great importance. He is talking, feeling and trusting. Numbness and silence are NOT our friends. Emotions cannot be selectively numbed. It is all or none. Shutting out the pain shuts out all of the joy too.
What does it mean to lament? It is responding to God with pain and not being okay with it. It involves feeling and talking. Trust is expressed. It’s saying, “I’m not okay Lord, my heart aches, yet I will seek you”. It’s knowing God will be good to you in your mess.
In the midst of a meltdown, it’s important to see the difference between guilt and shame.
Guilt: I MADE a mistake.
Shame: I AM a mistake.
God is with you! Despite any circumstances, He loves you and brings the ultimate hope to any situation. You are never alone.
Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Quitting Time, here.