Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame? Jeremiah 20:18
Jeremiah was a failure in terms of the outward success of his ministry, and he often expressed his sense of failure to God. None of the kings he preached to appreciated or obeyed what he said. He saw his ministry fail to stir the hearts of the people to repentance. He was persecuted in many ways, and despite weeping and praying for the people, he was rejected and saw the nation he loved destroyed. But Jeremiah was far from a failure. God sees success and failure in a completely different way from us – He measures success in tears. Jeremiah loved God and had a heart melted with compassion. He obeyed God when everyone around him, even other priests, were rejecting and criticising his ministry. He heard God’s voice and maintained a close relationship with God throughout his ministry. Jeremiah had three great marks of success: love for God and His people, obedience to God’s word, and intimacy in prayer. No matter what we achieve in life, if we lack these three things then we have failed. Jeremiah is so like Jesus in many ways, not least that both wept over Jerusalem. Tears cannot be imitated – they are the mark of a heart full of love. Not all of us are quiet souls who find prayer and meditation easy. Not all of us have the gift of healing. Not all of us are good preachers and teachers of the Word. But love is to be our common life, and it is in love that healing and power are found. It is not surprising that some of the people in Jesus’ day thought that He was Jeremiah.
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