Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Middle Man”
18 My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me. 19 Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people from the length and breadth of the land: “Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” “Why have they provoked me to anger with their carved images and with their foreign idols?” 20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” 21 For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?
I think one of the hardest things in ministry (not just as a full-time pastor but in any aspect of relational ministry), is when you know through prayer and discernment that someone is not walking in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, and yet this person is either unwilling or oblivious to see their errors. Especially in sensitive situations, it’s often difficult to come right out and speak the truth to them, let alone have them listen to you in the first place. It’s almost as if you are stuck in the middle between God and the individual.
So how are we to minister to the people in these situations? What is the wisdom here? The truth is—there is no set answer.
In this last portion of chapter 8, we see this dynamics at play. In these few verses, we come to know Jeremiah’s feelings about the situation (v. 18, 21-22), we see the people respond (v. 19b, 20), and we see God’s reply to the people (v. 19c). It’s clear that the people just don’t get why they are facing such tragedies. They question God, and complain He has deserted them. There is an entitlement for healing despite an unwillingness to repent. And Jeremiah is stuck in the middle of all of this and can do nothing other than to grieve.
When we find ourselves in situations like Jeremiah, I don’t think the right term is “middle-man,” as if to imply that we are to negotiate some kind of settlement. Rather, we are called to be conduits for God to move His people to repentance, because in the end, it is He who will. I have to remember that I am not called to make people repent—only the Holy Spirit can.
But we are called to pray: in the end, that is all that we can do. We pray and allow God to speak to us and to the person. And when He does, we must be ready to respond. This is our ministry.
I am constantly challenged by the thought that while ministering to those who are deceived and disobedient, I am just as susceptible to deception and disobedience while trying to minister to people. I pray that as we continue to ask God how we can join Him in His work, we would respond according to His wisdom, His ways, His power, and His timing.
Prayer: Father, thank You for using people like us as conduits of Your grace. We acknowledge, however, that we are just as sinful and prone to self-deception as the people that we are seeking to minister to. But we find great hope in that when we rely fully on You, You will speak and move in such a way that reveals Your incredible glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 8