Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife,
and a man of contention to the whole earth!
I have not lent, neither have men lent to me;
yet every one of them curses me.
“Most certainly I will strengthen you for good.
Most certainly I will cause the enemy to make supplication to you in the time of evil
and in the time of affliction.
Can one break iron,
even iron from the north, and bronze?
I will give your substance and your treasures for a plunder without price,
and that for all your sins,
even in all your borders.
I will make them to pass with your enemies into a land which you don’t know;
for a fire is kindled in my anger,
which will burn on you.”
We are entering one of the passages of the Bible that speaks to me in a very personal way. As a Christian, it’s easy for me to start looking at how I’m being treated by people for my obedience and to start to complain against God. It’s hard when you are being troubled by friends and enemies, because of your unwillingness to avoid your conscience. It’s hard when you are doing what is right and getting paid pain for it. These things are hard but it doesn’t mean that God is making a mistake or that He won’t make things better someday.
In this passage Jeremiah tells God what he feels about having to share a message that makes him unpopular with everyone. They treat him like a scoundrel even though he didn’t do anything that scoundrels do. He said that even his mother is cursed because she bore a son like this. These comments make it pretty obvious that Jeremiah was frustrated and I have been feeling things like this too.
After Jeremiah complains to God, God says some things that are pretty difficult for me to interpret. It’s as if God is telling Jeremiah that when he is taken captive, he will be treated with respect but his property and people are still going to be taken because of God’s anger against Jeremiah and Jeremiah’s people. Now why would God be angry with Jeremiah? That’s what seems confusing to me, but there does seem to be a thread of guilt that God is putting on Jeremiah here that appears to continue on in this chapter.
God was planning to protect Jeremiah as He had already told Him. Jeremiah’s duty was to believe and not doubt. It was good for Jeremiah to come to God with his complaint, but his complaint was still wrong. God was right to allow Jeremiah to be born and God had the right to use Jeremiah to do something difficult. God wasn’t doing anything worthy of his complaint. I need to remember that too. When things aren’t going right, I have the responsibility to trust in God’s choice and not be angered or frustrated by God’s way of doing things.