Sabbath Reflection #7: Persistence

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 25:1-6
Take some time to read Jeremiah 25:1-6 (or even the whole chapter) and make a note of what stands out to you. What does the reading tell you about God the Father, Son and Spirit? What does it tell you about people and/or yourself?

(Adapted from Run with the Horses, by Eugene H. Peterson, 2009, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, pp.107-117.)

The prophet Jeremiah lived in a time of change when the tiny kingdom of Judah was caught in the middle of a power struggle between Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. This positioning put the people of Judah under threat but, having witnessed Jerusalem’s survival from destruction a century earlier, they had a sense of invincibility. They also had a stubbornness that had withstood God’s patience for a long time, but in chapter 25 of Jeremiah we see the beginning of the end of this patience.

Jeremiah was clear-sighted and candid in his judgement of what was happening around him. A man of God who worshipped the spirit within him, Jeremiah was a lone prophet who stood out as an exemplar of one who had a close, personal walk with God. And he was a man with an incredible amount of persistence.

In the middle of the book of Jeremiah – and the midpoint of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry – chapter 25 verse 3 says: ‘for twenty-three years…the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.’ Twenty-three years is a long time to be delivering the same message with no response. But Jeremiah was not stuck in a rut, rather he was committed to a purpose. There are at least ten other instances in the book of Jeremiah where he tells of having such persistence, a dusk-until-dawn tireless effort to speak God’s words to the hearts of those in Judah. And even though they don’t listen, Jeremiah persists every day – not with the fear of being rejected again, rather with the knowledge that he gets to spend another day in the service of his King. And over time this persistence amounts to a life of tenacity and stamina; it shows a faithfulness that contrasts with the erratic and impulsive nature of those around him.

The work of the Lord can take time, but Eugene Peterson suggests that we tend to let ‘[o]ur compulsive timetables collide with God’s leisurely providence’ (p.98). So as our Sabbath month draws to a close and we anticipate what lies ahead, we can take great encouragement from the life of Jeremiah. Rather than looking at the long road ahead, it is sometimes wise to just look at today and be faithful to the opportunities God brings. And then tomorrow we can do the same. And then the day after that…well, you get the picture.

Where is God calling you to have greater patience or perseverance? Do you tend to look too far ahead and miss the opportunities God gives you in the moment? Read more of Jeremiah’s story (or Eugene Peterson’s book, perhaps) and see what God might be saying to you about faithfulness and persistence.

Thank God for His divine purposes in which He invites us to play a part. Spend some time in quiet reflection, receptive to hearing what God might be calling you to be or do today.

– Kirrily