Burning out between God and Mankind
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock all day long, they all make fun of me. 8 For whenever I speak, I have to howl and proclaim, ‘Violence and ruin!’ For me, Yahweh’s word has been the cause of insult and derision all day long. 9 I would say to myself, ‘I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more,’ but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it. Jeremiah 20:7-9 (NJB)
The prayerful persons are doubly seduced, by God and by people.
On the one hand, they cannot do without God because they need to constantly look for Him as they know that they are beloved and wanted by Him, nor can they do without the people because they feel the need to serve them as they see in them the face of God.
The prophet Jeremiah felt this experience to the core.
I started writing this blog when I came across both readings in my devotions last week.
The first is a verse I’ve come to know all too well. The complaint of Jeremiah, that somehow God tricked him into ministry, that He seduces us, that He deceives us into this work where we get caught between God and mankind.
By the way, this is not just a pastoral issue, but an issue for everyone who ministers to other people. Elders, Sunday School teachers, parents, those who teach Bible Studies, we all find this challenge as we seek to point people to God, as we walk alongside them on their journey, as we see them struggle with sin, and with the narcissism that affects us all.
I love how Pope Francis describes it, we feel the need to serve them as we see in them the face of God. Despite their brokenness, despite their sin (and ours!), we see in them the image of Christ Jesus, and we know we have to help them see Jesus.
Sometimes that is a burden that is tiring and seems unending. Sometimes it seems like they will never listen, or at least keep the memory of what they heard for even a day.
There are days the weariness gets to be such a burden that you want to quit, you don’t want to speak about God again. Not even think about Him, Jeremiah determines.
It is impossible, and I think Pope Francis tells us why.
Not only are we burdened to do something about the sin and brokenness we see, we are likewise burdened to encounter God ourselves. We need to know we are wanted in this relationship we have with Him, we are loved! Despite the effort, it takes to clean us up, He still wants us with Him, He still loves us.
That love burns within us, it changes everything, in our lives. It is the fire that burns within, the love of God who created us in HIs image, He restores that image as the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Jesus.
And if he can do that to you and I, surely he can do that to those we minister to, those we serve, those whose lives we weep over.
And so like Jeremiah, we enter another week, looking God, serving those He is calling to His side, helping them to see God at work in their lives, too. And know this, count on this promise, revealed to us by the apostle Paul.
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you j will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6-7 HCSB
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 257). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Posted on August 13, 2018, in Devotions, Pope Francis, Theology in Practice and tagged Complaining about God, God with Us, hope, Life in Christ, Minsitry Nurnout, Prophet Jeremiah. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.