JEREMIAH chapter 45 verses 1 – 5 are an encouragement to the scribe, Baruch.
Those of us who’ve had our backs broken in life, in a spiritual way, find ourselves in a peculiar state of being: the only thing that matters is serving God. Fortunately, we can bless our families in our serving of God, otherwise they’d not get a look in. Having died we came to life in a new mind and, indeed, a new body. I died on September 22, 2003. I died several times over the intervening period. Some may read these words and find me melodramatic, but there is something never more compelling in the state of having given up on yourself, ever. The desire I had for my own way — the way it was — has gone. That period transformed me in so many ways. I am so thankful to God for what he has done. I had no choice. It happened to me. But it was for the best.
Baruch’s story is something akin to the grief I experienced, having lost my family and home overnight. Baruch suffered under the persecution of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, as did Jeremiah. Baruch was “weary with groaning…” and unable to find any rest. Baruch suffered long enough to be transformed by his suffering, for, without much suffering, there cannot be much growth.
Longsuffering teaches transformation. Without much suffering there cannot be much growth. We cannot be expected to rely on God with great acuity unless we are pushed beyond our own limits of self-reliance regularly enough and long enough.
Where is this headed? We are getting back on track from the excursus.
When we have been transformed by a sustained period of suffering, there is a yearning inside, like never before or since, to want to serve the Lord; to be used!
We never wanted to be used by anyone before; we never wanted to be exploited. Yet, given the period of loss we have entered and endured, nothing matters anymore; nothing matters apart from the doing of God’s will. Every other part of us has been parted away.
The Lord says to Jeremiah, who dictates to Baruch who scribes the words, “And you, do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them…” Baruch is chastised for seeking to do “great things” for the Lord. We want the same; the opportunity to do wonderfully blessed things for God even to the point of notoriety.
But we forget that our Lord, who had nowhere to rest his head, and never had a home to call his own, was famous not for big things; but for the little things that were actually big — healing miracles no less. Are we to seek great things for ourselves? We are better to run in the opposite direction and actually shun notoriety. That’s how we will know the genuine minister of God — through their reticence for fame that reveals their overblown pride (the chief niche the enemy uses to destroy us).
If we would be desperate to be used by God we must recognise the dangers that lay ahead of us because of our pride. We should rather be used by God in small, private, though significant ways.
God will use our small offerings if we give them to him, but he will despise the prideful vestiges where we want to split the credit.
God can only use us if we seek no glory for ourselves. If we would be prepared never to be recognised, then we are ready to be used by God.
Suffering teaches us the implicit glory in being used by God. It’s a glory that should nauseate us if we get any credit in the public domain.
Much suffering derives much growth, and much growth commends us to being used by God much, in much secrecy.
Being used by God is a glory we cannot ever hope to understand.
To be used by God is to be called “blessed” in the kingdom of heaven.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.