Sometimes, when you’re doing God’s work, it’s really painful. You may get persecuted. Just ask Jeremiah.. In today’s 1st reading, he gets thrown into a cistern for speaking God’s word to the people. I’ll bet there have been times in each of our lives where we’ve felt a little like Jeremiah. We’re trying to do the right thing, trying to do God’s will, but those around us reject what we’re saying or doing.
We may think of this type of persecution as something from long ago. But religious persecution still exists in many parts of the world. My Burmese neighbors moved all the way to Indiana to escape religious persecution in their homeland. The persecution is sanctioned by the government. The army is known to attack Christian groups. My Burmese neighbors (Christian) said the military targets religious symbols to show its power. They’ll say “we’ll burn down your church”.
About one-third of my neighbors are Burmese Christians, from Chin state. They are so happy to live in America, and have mostly felt welcome in Indiana. But, even in our Southport neighborhood, there is discrimination. Last year, someone posted a sign on the lawn of a Chin family who had just moved in stating, “No more Chins”.
It’s not easy being a prophet or a Christian. When have you felt persecuted or rejected? How did you respond? Did you give up? Did you press on and complete your task?
God has given each of us certain talents and gifts. When we use them fully, we honor God as good stewards of these gifts. The Lord doesn’t ask us to use these gifts only when it is easy or convenient. Sometimes it’s going to be really hard, and we may feel like we’re all alone out there.
Like the prophet Jeremiah, and the refugees among us, let us remember that we are never really alone. God will never abandon us. As the psalmist says today “Lord, come to my aid! The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp.”
Tony Cooper-Stewardship and Development