Jeremiah 20:7-13 (NRSV)
Verse 7O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. Verse 8For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. Verse 9If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. Verse 10For I hear many whispering: "Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. "Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him." Verse 11But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten. Verse 12O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. Verse 13Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.
Jeremiah feels used. His call to preach to God’s people has overpowered him, and he’s not able to do anything except speak what God has called him to say. But what he has to say isn’t very popular. In fact, it makes his neighbors laugh at him, mock him, plot to kill him, and basically make his life miserable.
Out of self-defense he decides not to say anything. But the message God has called him to speak burns in his mind and body, and that makes him even more miserable. He’s in a horrible position. If he speaks, he faces the punishments of his neighbors, and if he doesn’t speak, he faces God’s retribution. Has God misused him? What options are left to him? What does he do?
He reminds himself of who it is that has called him, and he commits himself to do what God wants. Then, in anticipation of God action on behalf of the needy, he sings a song of praise.
When we are feeling unjustly criticized, O Lord, help us to bring our complaints to you, and leave them in your hands. Amen.