Honesty – The Best Policy?

Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors. Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.

Jeremiah 20:13-14

Jeremiah 20 contains a heartfelt prayer from the prophet that makes him seem bipolar.

At the beginning of the chapter, Jeremiah gets arrested for his prophecies and thrown in prison. After he gets released, Jeremiah returns to his prophesying.

Right after that is where we see Jeremiah begin praying; he starts off complaining to God about how nothing seems to be going his way. He feels as though God has been leading him astray. People were mocking him; all of the words he had to say were not what anyone wanted to hear. Jeremiah even tries to run away from his calling, but he can’t. The people are waiting for the opportunity to set him up.

Suddenly, in verse 11, Jeremiah goes from blaming and complaining to praising. He declares his trust in the LORD. He remembers how the LORD has lifted him up, dusting him off when he was “poor and needy.”

Almost as quickly as we see Jeremiah declare faith in the LORD, he starts to curse the day he was born, demonstrating that maybe his faith wasn’t as strong as we saw in verses 11-13. It’s very curious. What can we take from Jeremiah’s prayer?

The most obvious thing is that Jeremiah is not afraid of being honest with the way he was feeling. Jeremiah is grappling with a tumultuous spirit. He’s looking for some solid ground to plant his feet into, and he seems to find that in his faith in God. In the end, however, Jeremiah doesn’t seem to feel the security that he believes is being offered him.

Earlier in Jeremiah, the prophet states that God is “searching for honesty” (5:3). Jeremiah is not afraid to give it. His honesty, however, is baffling. He’s not afraid of revealing the deepest, darkest secrets of everything that runs through his mind. These kinds of emotions are things that we usually guard with stone walls and fences.

I know that I usually find it easier to open up to a good friend about some of the things going on in my heart, but it seems as though I have a harder time being honest with God. I almost want to have the appropriate demeanor, the right words to say. I want to clean myself up, pretend as though He doesn’t already know exactly what’s going on in my heart at every moment (vs. 12).

Jeremiah was willing to trust God with his inmost thoughts, and nothing gets neatly wrapped up by the end of chapter 20. Though his emotions and feelings carried him away, Jeremiah stuck to his faith in God without fear of what was going on inside his chest.

That kind of faith and trust represents something deeper than I can understand, but I think that I will do my best to mimic it.

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