Devotional Thoughts for Today
“God Hears Us”
“Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me; he has crushed me; he has made me an empty vessel; he has swallowed me like a monster; he has filled his stomach with my delicacies; he has rinsed me out. The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon,” let the inhabitant of Zion say. “My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,” let Jerusalem say.
Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will plead your cause and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea and make her fountain dry, and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, the haunt of jackals, a horror and a hissing, without inhabitant.
As a brand new church planter, one of my personal struggles is—my constant need to be respected. People strive to find their sense of worth in different ways; so for me, my sense of worth is woefully intertwined with whether or not I feel respected by my congregation, my fellow pastors/missionaries, my wife, and those whom I look up to. For the past two months, I’ve spent hours stressfully evaluating and re-evaluating each and every sermon I’ve preached and Bible studies that I’ve led with the question: “Do people respect me? Perhaps I said that too harshly, or too passively; perhaps it was irrelevant and boring, or I sounded too self-centered… and so on.” It was getting to the point where I was losing sleep because of my constant obsession with re-evaluation—all in an effort to determine whether or not the few people in our church respected me. It started taking a toll on my body and my mental health, as well as my relationship with my family. When anxiety hits me like this, I often feel crushed, swallowed up, or rinsed out, much like the Israelites’ cry in our passage today. Of course they are speaking of destruction in a physical sense, but for many of us, the spiritual oppression that we experience is just as real of a defeat as this.
Deliverance came for me when I verbalized my defeat before God. Of all places, it happened in the shower—that’s become my one guaranteed place of solitude. I confessed to Him that my desire to be respected was eating me up, because that’s where I was seeking to find my worth. Almost as soon as the words left my mouth, it was as if the fog cleared, and I remembered the simple truth of the gospel: My worth is not based upon peoples’ opinion of me, but rather what God has spoken over me: that I am His child. That’s where my worth comes from! I felt the burden and stress begin to melt away, and I walked out of that shower feeling more refreshed than ever. By the way, this wasn’t a new revelation. Of course I have heard this, known this, and even preached on being a child of God before. But it wasn’t until I confessed my brokenness before God that this gospel truth was able to touch and transform the inner parts of my being.
The book of Jeremiah has been a tough one so far, primarily because of all the talk about destruction and defeat. But if there’s one thing we can glean from today’s passage, it’s that when God’s people cry out to their God, He is faithful to listen and respond. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, crushed, swallowed up, let us cry out to our Lord.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that even when we feel swallowed up, You are still in control. And we thank You that You hear us and respond to us when we call. Help us to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy. But Lord, when we do fall, may we be quick to call out to You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 18:1-8: And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Questions to Consider
- In Jesus’ parable, why does the judge decide to give the widow what she asks for?
- According to the passage, why did Jesus tell this parable?
- What does this passage tell us about who our God is?
- In Jesus’ parable, He makes it doubly clear that this judge is not a believer in God, nor is he a people pleaser. Jesus is removing all other variables in order to make the point that persistence alone is enough to persuade a worldly judge into action.
- To encourage the listeners “to always pray and not lose heart.”
- The parable is not saying that God is like this worldly judge. The point is that even a worldly judge, despite his worldliness, would still be stirred by persistence. How much more, then, would our God, a God who is loving and just, respond to our persistent prayers? The answer is clear: “will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.”
Where do you find your sense of worth? It’s often difficult to answer this question honestly, because we don’t often think this way. But it’s an important question to wrestle with, because the thing you find your worth in actually has a lot of control over how you live. Spend some time tonight asking the Holy Spirit if there is any part of you that is seeking to find worth in something other than God.