Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1:9-10 (NIV)
“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
The past seven years have been the craziest stretch in my lifetime. I’ve heard some of my elders compare it to the 1960s and early 1970s. I was but a wee-one back then. I was six when Nixon resigned. I remember watching it on television.
The political turmoil, the division, the global upheaval of the pandemic, and the heightened conflicts in virtually every layer of society have been fascinating to observe. What’s made it even more fascinating for me is to recognize that the upheaval flies in the face of a well-documented reality: The earth as a whole has never been such a great place to live in all of human history. Life spans have never been longer. Humans have never been so rich, so educated, so healthy, or so safe. If you don’t believe me, please pick up a copy of Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness or stop by his website gapminder.
What has been so fascinating for me to witness is seeing so many claiming that the world has never been a worse place to live and that things have never been worse economically, racially, and in the quality of life. When I observe this disconnect, I personally conclude that there is something happening on a spiritual level.
For those who have been trekking along with me on this chapter-a-day journey, our trail this past year has been through the story of the history of the Hebrew tribes from the time of the Judges through the monarchies of Saul, David, and Solomon, to the years of the divided kingdoms of Israel (north) and Judah (south). We ended 2 Kings in which the kingdom of Judah is taken into exile by the Babylonians, and we then followed the prophet Daniel to Babylon.
Life at the end of the Hebrew monarchy and the time of the Babylonian exile was a period of tremendous upheaval on almost every level of society for the people of Judah. There was political instability, and conflict everywhere along with violence, war, and famine. It feels to me as if it was, for the common person living through it, not unlike what we have been experiencing in our own period of history.
There was a man who lived through this period of upheaval. His name was Jeremiah. God called Jerry to be His prophet and the prophet wrote the longest book in all of the Great Story (by Hebrew word count). He not only records the words God gave him, but he was also not afraid to record his personal emotions about his life and circumstances. He was not afraid to cry out to God against his personal enemies. Jerry is a very human being who is living in strange times. And so, I think it is a good time to make another journey through his story, and through his writings.
In today’s chapter, God calls Jerry to be His mouthpiece. He’s young. He’s too young, the young man tells God. He’s probably parroting what he’s been repeatedly told by his parents, his teachers, his culture, and every adult he’s ever known. But, as Paul instructs young Timothy, God tells young Jerry not to let anyone look down on him because he’s young. God doesn’t put a minimum age on being His instrument. That’s a lesson that earthly religious institutions have never really embraced. Human institutions prefer the bureaucratic control of hoop-jumping and meritocracy to the messiness of mystery, faith, and surrender.
What God makes clear to Jerry from the beginning is that, as the Author of Life, He has had a plan for Jerry before he was formed in the womb. He likewise is authoring the Great Story on a geopolitical scale and the storyboard is already sketched out. Jerry’s job is to fulfill his role and to communicate the script that’s already written.
This gives me encouragement as a disciple of Jesus walking through my own strange times. I believe that I was known before I was formed in my mother’s womb. I believe that what is happening in the modern geopolitical landscape and our own period of history is every bit as storyboarded as the events of Jeremiah’s day. If I really believe what I say I believe, then I have nothing to fear nor do I need to be anxious – just as Jesus instructed The Twelve on the eve of His execution. I simply need to fulfill the role I’ve been given and trust the story that’s already written.
The featured image on today’s post was created with Wonder AI
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