Here’s the scene. The King has given you a message to proclaim to those in the surrounding country (Jeremiah 1:4-5, ESV). He warned you in advance that the citizens of this country and your family would persecute you, beat you, imprison you, but they would not overcome you (Jer. 1:18-19, ESV). Why is that the case? The King promised to be with you wherever you go. In fact, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the King called and commissioned you for this mission (Jer. 1:4,9,11,13-14, ESV).
At some point in your ministry, you cry out to the King over the widespread injustices taking place all over the land (Jer. 12:1-2, ESV). You observe the wicked thriving and prospering at the expense of their neighbor, the animals and nature (Jer. 12:4, ESV). These wicked men openly blaspheme the King you serve wholeheartedly (Jer. 12:4b, ESV). Instead of bringing them to justice, you observe the King testing your character, proving your faithfulness to him (Jer. 12:3, ESV).
Deep within you comes a cry for justice, for the King to act in accordance with his righteousness (Jer. 12:1, ESV). You’re his servant, his messenger to the surrounding people. The King grants you an audience with him for this particular complaint. He waits until you finish. You breath in deeply and notice that your emotions settle. The King peers at you with his piercing eyes full of grace and truth. He speaks the following gentle, but firm words straight to your heart:
“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood” (Jeremiah 12:5, MSG)?
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan” (Jeremiah 12:5, ESV)?
Now you’re mind spins like a top. You know that it is rude to reply to a question with a question; however, this one unnerves you. After all, he is the King. He knows all and sees all. You can feel your chest tighten inside while your breathing becomes a little more rapid. Maybe you’re experiencing the onset of a panic attack. You think to yourself, “did I just hear my King say that it’s going to get worse before it gets better?” Right after that thought crosses your mind, your loving King leans forward a bit. He means business, but you see love staring at you. He has your attention as he speaks:
“Those closest to you, your own brothers and cousins, are working against you. They’re out to get you. They’ll stop at nothing. Don’t trust them, especially when they’re smiling” (Jeremiah 12:6, MSG).
“For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you” (Jeremiah 12:6, ESV).
The King and you trade glances for a bit. There is something about his face, his presence, that comforts you. His words might have felt like iron, but at least they came from him. He took the time to warn you…he told you what to expect rather than sugarcoat things. The tension and anxiety within your chest has subsided completely. You realize that the burning sensation in your chest is your love for the King. His mission for you hasn’t changed. You must proclaim his message to the surrounding lands. You must do this even if it means racing against horses.