Imagine for a moment that God called you to tell your people that judgment was coming because of their sin – that the battles ahead are going to be lost and that another nation is going to conquer them. God reassures you, though, that in 70 years your nation will begin to rebuild.
That’s a difficult message. Most alive today would not live to see the nation rebuilt. It’s hard to hear and a lonely message to share, but this was Jeremiah’s calling to the people of Israel for 42 years. He spoke for the Lord from the time of King Josiah all the way to the Israel’s exile in Babylon. He warned his people about all that was coming, but they didn’t listen.
He was hated by the government and the people, because no one wanted to believe that hard times were on the way. In fact, all the other prophets were telling the people what they wanted to hear – that Israel would defeat Babylon if they just put up a good fight and that any exile would be very short. But this was not the truth.
In his time, Jeremiah was not a popular prophet, to say the least, but the Lord was with him and revealed himself to Jeremiah from the very beginning of his calling as a prophet to the nations, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer. 1:8). The Lord promised to sustain him and he did.
Fast forward about 600 years and God had similar words for Mary in the Gospel of Luke when she was told through the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus. That was a hard message for a teenage girl, but the Lord said, “I am with you, Mary” (1:28). “Don’t be afraid” (1:30). I will deliver you, because “no word from God will ever fail” (1:37). It was the Lord that would sustain Mary through her whole life, even as she watched her son being crucified on a cross and then rise from the grave three days later.
Today, the gospel message often puts us at odds with our culture and even our own people and families. But God still promises to sustain us. Remember what Jesus said to his disciples when he gave them the Great Commission? “Do not be afraid” (Mt. 28:10). “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). He promises that he will never leave us and never forsake us (Heb. 13:5) no matter what we are facing. And, ultimately, he will deliver us. As the Lord was with Jeremiah and with Mary, He promises His presence to us and because of this we can trust Him and not walk in fear.