First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9

Desperation, Not Despair

How can you be mad at a person, yet love him or her at the same time?

7 YHWH, you have persuaded me, and I was persuaded; you are stronger than I, and have prevailed: I am become a laughing-stock all the day, every one mocks me. 8 For as often as I speak, I cry out; I cry, Violence and destruction! because the word of YHWH is made a reproach to me, and a derision, all the day. 9 If I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I can't.

World English Bible

In these few verses, Jeremiah outlined his rage against and his surrender to the Lord. Are these two attitudes incompatible? Can one be mad at God? Can he or she say "Yes" to God at the same time?

We do not know the exact source of Jeremiah's despair, but we do know the context. Jeremiah prophesied toward the end of the Judean monarchy, just before the Babylonian exile. The kings of the small Jewish state played the regional powers (Egypt and Babylon) against each other. Jeremiah railed against these shifting alliances between enemies. His advesaries took direct (arrest) and indirect (rumors and slander) action against the prophet.

The sensitive Jeremiah complained that his proclamation led directly to the loss of reputation and shame. Yet, he felt God compelled to preach. Jeremiah was in a spiritual "Catch-22." Preaching caused his shame, yet brought him closer to God. In this light, we can see Jeremiah could be angry with his Creator, yet remain his man.

A priest I know once said, "It's okay to get mad at God. It's not okay to give up on God." Jeremiah clearly proved this point.

Have you ever been mad at God? Has serving the Lord caused you so much stress, you've doubted his wisdom? What keeps you loyal to him?