Holding on to Promises

Imagine being called by God to a people who would mock you, throw you in a cistern, and rarely listen to you. In the midst of persecution, you go and speak God’s words to them because God has promised to take care of you. But it isn’t easy.

The story of Jeremiah is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to his promises. But I wonder if Jeremiah was able to see the hope of those promises through the darkened clouds of his ministry. Knowing my own tendencies, it would be hard for me.

In Jeremiah 38 he is thrown into a cistern where he will surely die with no help. There is no food, no water, and no rescue in sight. But God had promised to protect him (1:17-19). How could this be happening? And it wasn’t the first time. He was constantly in danger for speaking God’s words to the King and was even threatened by the Babylonian exile. All the while, God’s earlier promise of protection echoed in his ear. “God promised to protect me in this ministry. What can man do to me?” It probably wasn’t always easy to think this way. Then again, this is only my speculation.

Like all of us, Jeremiah probably didn’t always see how the promised deliverance would be fulfilled, and being stuck in a mud hole left to starve doesn’t give a lot of hope of escape. We, however, see the other side. We know that there is another chapter coming and can see that God provided a way out. For Jeremiah, in the middle of it all, there was only a promise.

We face the same dilemma often, though on a much smaller scale. All we can see around us is mud rising, ready to swallow us up. Although God has not promised to always deliver us, he has promised to never leave us or forsake us—and to always work things for our good (Romans 8:28). We have the great promise that our lives are never lived in vain.

Perhaps it was all of Jeremiah’s experiences that led him to pen the great words “great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Surely it was. The book of Lamentations is no happy book, but it is a hopeful book. Despite all of the hardship and exile God was still working like he said he would—and Jeremiah knew that. He knew God’s faithfulness was great. He had seen new mercies every morning when it seemed like there was no hope.

As followers of Christ we have the same great story. Our God provides the same daily mercies for us that he did for Jeremiah. And we can proclaim along with the saints who have gone through much hardship and strife, that every day his faithfulness is great indeed.