Jeremiah was called into the prophetic ministry when he was young man. Humble and eager to serve God, he became a man of prayer and deep spirituality–a man who faced his trials with courage.
During his forty years of ministry, Jeremiah would suffer intense persecution. He was thrown into a dungeon, beaten, put in stocks, and threatened. Tradition teaches that he was stoned to death. Despite the opposition he faced, however, he remained true to the messages God gave him. He confronted the Jews with their rebellion and called them to confess their sins, accept responsibility, and ask God for forgiveness. As God directed him, he also spoke words of comfort to a people facing disaster.
Jeremiah was also a man of great compassion. He openly expressed his grief over the sinfulness of his people. In fact, he’s known as the weeping prophet. He shed many tears for the sin of his people and the destructive consequences he knew they’d face. After Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were exiled, Jeremiah wrote the book Lamentations to express his sorrow over the pain and loss of his people. There were times when Jeremiah openly and honestly complained to God about the work God had given him. Yet even in the midst of his sadness, Jeremiah never lost faith in God’s power to judge righteously, to reward liberally, and to restore his broken people.
The New Testament describes Samson as a man of faith. It mentions neither his failures nor his great strength. Though he possessed great physical strength, he was a moral weakling who followed his own selfish desires and ignored God. Do you remember his story? He was the man who foolishly loved Delilah?
It seems that after the first three episodes of betrayal, Samson would’ve known not to trust Delilah. But like many of us, Samson thought that giving into manipulation was an expression of love. He chose to please Delilah and to get what he wanted from her, rather than to obey God and deliver his people. Delilah chose to use her relationship with Samson for her own gain. Most of us have experienced the pain of being used, and we have undoubtedly used others. We’ve also known the searing agony of being betrayed.
It will accomplish nothing to look at Samson and think about what he didn’t accomplish. Likewise, it does little good for us to become depressed over what might have been. Samson shows us that as long as we have life, we have hope. It’s never to late to surrender your life to God and allow him to redeem you and restore what you’ve lost. In spite of his failures, Samson is listed as a champion of faith in Hebrews 11. In spite of your failures, you, too, can be a champion of faith as God continues to transform your life.
As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross. That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ. But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.
As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way. You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks. Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.
Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere. He had similar emotions. The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38). He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible. But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39). Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.
You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life. But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions. As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.