Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame?
– Jeremiah 20:18
I really wrestled with which verse from Jeremiah 20 to read and pray according to. There’s so much good in here. There’s so much in this Jeremiah 20:18 that leads us to pray. When you look at Jeremiah 20:1–2, you see Jeremiah beaten for proclaiming the word of God in you. Think about our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world that we need to pray for. And you get to Jeremiah 20:9 and Jeremiah is tempted to stay silent with God’s word in part because of the cost of proclaiming it. And he said, I can’t stay silent. There is in my heart, like a burning fire, shut up in my bones, a passion, a desire, a compassion to proclaim God’s word. I am weary with holding it in and I can’t do it.
Jeremiah 20:18 Reminds Us God Sets Us Apart
May it be so in our lives, may we proclaim God’s word no matter what it costs us. But the reason I’m drawn to read and pray, according to Jeremiah 20:18 is because here’s Jeremiah, who is a prophet of God who has been anointed by God, set apart by God for his purpose. And at the end of this Jeremiah 20, he is despairing of life itself.
He says, why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame? And this is a low point. And we see this at different points in heroes, in the old Testament. I think about Elijah after calling down fire from heaven and rain from the sky, he’s threatened by Jezebel and he runs away and sits down and says, God, I don’t want to live anymore. Not just, I don’t want to keep doing ministry.
Jeremiah 20:18 Encourages Us When We are Suffering
Like I don’t want to live. And this is where Jeremiah is. Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame? And I want to pray according to this verse, because this verse is making clear that not one person is beyond getting to this point, that some people even listing right now may be near this point, at this point, or familiar with this point from the past where you are so in despair that you wonder if you even want to go on.
And if you’re there or if you’ve been there, or if you find yourself there in the future, I just want to remind you based on God’s word, you’re not alone. That toil and sorrow in this world lead to low days and low moments and low seasons. And God is right there with you in the low.
God Pursues Us and Meets Us in the Darkness
This is the picture I love in 1 Kings 19, when God pursues, Elijah and meets him at that low. That’s what we’re seeing here in Jeremiah 20. And I want to remind you if you’re there now, if you find yourself at a low point like this in the future, where you are despairing of life itself, don’t forget that your God is with you, that your God loves you and your God promises to give you everything you need in that moment.
God, I pray this over people, especially who are in this kind of low at this moment. God, I pray they would know your presence with them, your love for them, your care and compassion for them, your promise to provide everything they need, that they would continue to look to you just as Jeremiah did, continue to trust in you in these moments, even when it seems like darkness and despair are everywhere around them, when they feel weak and weary, hurt, just immersed in toil and sorrow.
Praying for Strength and Hope
God, I pray that you would give strength, and peace, and hope, and joy, that you would restore them. God, that they would not succumb to despair, not based on your love and based on your grace, and your mercy, and your promise to bring them through the toil and sorrow of this world. So God may it be so. I just pray Jeremiah 20:18, over those who are at a low point, low season in their life, or those who find themselves there in the days to come, hide this word away in their heart, that they are made by you, loved by you, cared for by you, and you promised to bring them through as they trust in you. May it be so according to your word in Jeremiah 20:18. In Jesus’ name, I pray amen.