Christ’s People Often Find Themselves Alone
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”
In my opinion the book of Jeremiah ought to be the handbook (along with the Pastoral Epistles) of any seminary training for future pastors. Or for that matter, training for any genuine Christian. Jeremiah is my favorite Old Testament character. I identify with him and I suspect that many of you who have suffered for Christ find comfort in his example and experience as well.
There is much we could say about the Scripture quoted above, but this morning I just wanted to point out Jeremiah’s words – I sat alone. In these wicked days we live in, this is the increasing experience of Christ’s people. Aloneness. Why? Let me suggest these reasons drawn from the text:
- Jeremiah found and consumed God’s Word. He loved that Word.
- Jeremiah was alone while the rest of the crowd was partying on in a wicked, sinful manner.
- Jeremiah was indignant when he saw their wickedness.
- And he was indignant because he was filled with and treasured God’s Word – God’s truth.
Now, this was no fun. Jeremiah, like us, suffered. And he even had some doubts. He wondered if God, in the end, was just going to be like a cool brook in a desert which, when the thirsty man is just about to drink from it, it dries up. Jeremiah wrested with his doubt because things weren’t getting any better for him. In fact, the more he spoke for the Lord the more he suffered. He even resolved once to shut his mouth and speak God’s Word no more. But he couldn’t pull it off. The Lord had called him as a spokesman and speak he must. God’s Word in him was like fire and it had to be let out.
The Lord answered Jeremiah and told him that he (Jeremiah) needed to reaffirm his faith in God’s Word, trust Him completely, and not yield to the wicked for a moment. The Lord promised to strengthen His prophet and deliver him out of the hand of the wicked.
If you love God’s Word, obey it and share it, you will inevitably find yourself sitting alone. I have no doubt at all that this is really at the bottom of most all the abuse that Christian abuse victims suffer at the hands of their abuser, especially if that abuser claims to be a Christian themselves. Darkness hates light. Evil hates righteousness. Satan hates Christ.
Here then is encouragement. God’s Word to us is that we keep right on doing what we are doing — taking in His Word, delighting in it, and announcing it to others. We must not yield to the world’s charges that somehow we have gone quite wrong and need to come and join everyone else on Broadway. No. We must not go to them. They must come to us. As we do this, the Lord’s promise is to strengthen us and in His appointed time, he will rescue us.