Jeremiah 15:15-20 (ESV)

O Lord, you know;

remember me and visit me,

and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.

In your forbearance take me not away;

know that for your sake I bear reproach.

[16] Your words were found, and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart,

for I am called by your name,

O Lord, God of hosts.

[17] I did not sit in the company of revelers,

nor did I rejoice;

I sat alone, because your hand was upon me,

for you had filled me with indignation.

[18] Why is my pain unceasing,

my wound incurable,

refusing to be healed?

Will you be to me like a deceitful brook,

like waters that fail?

[19] Therefore thus says the Lord:

“If you return, I will restore you,

and you shall stand before me.

If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,

you shall be as my mouth.

They shall turn to you,

but you shall not turn to them.

[20] And I will make you to this people

a fortified wall of bronze;

they will fight against you,

but they shall not prevail over you,

for I am with you

to save you and deliver you,

declares the Lord.

Take careful note of what Jeremiah says here about what is going on in his life.

1 – He is being persecuted (verse 15). Jeremiah prophecies what God gives him to prophecy and because the people do not like the message they blame the messenger. It is for God’s sake that Jeremiah is hated and opposed.

2 – He is alone (verse 17). By choice, Jeremiah does not join in with others in their sinful debauchery. This leaves him alone and lonely. He does not rejoice in what others rejoice in because it is wrong. His hatred of evil is from God and it costs him friends and fellowship.

3 – He is in pain (verse 18). This could be physical pain from others who have actually assaulted Jeremiah in some fashion, the inner pain caused by loneliness, opposition, hatred from others, or more likely, both.

There is a hint of bitterness in Jeremiah when he asks God if He too is going to fail him. Jeremiah is beginning to wonder if all the troubles that he is experiencing are evidence that God has abandoned him. Jeremiah is in pretty rough shape and it is not hard to see why his questions of God are made.

But Jeremiah says something astounding in his rehearsal of his woes. It appears to not belong here at all. It doesn’t fit with the general tone of all the other comments that Jeremiah makes. It is found in verse 16.

Your words were found, and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart,

for I am called by your name,

We often think of Jeremiah as being completely devoid of any joy or happiness at all. But that is not true. He did find great joy and satisfaction. He maintained it even when he was being pursued and opposed and assaulted. Even when he was openly questioning God’s faithfulness to keep him. Even when he was wondering if God was going to desert him just like everyone else did. Jeremiah found delight in the Word of God.

This is a truth and experience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not had it. There are numberless believers who can testify of persecution, of wondering where God was in the midst of their pain, of wanting to quit, of thinking that faithfulness was not worth it, and much more, who, at the same time, were able to speak of reading a text of Scripture and being filled with comfort and joy and satisfaction, even though the troubles have not abated in the least.

This is a work of the Holy Spirit. This is the power of the Word of God. This is God answering our prayers about where He is when we are suffering. Bible study and prayer are often the first things to go when life gets tough, and there cannot be a bigger mistake to make than refuse or neglect to open the Word because of trouble. Reading the Bible will not make trouble disappear. But we need to remember that it is the Word of God. It will bring a song to the heart that is absolutely inexplicable. It is an amazing thing.

May you find, when Jeremiah 15: 15, 17, 18 are your story, that verse 16 is your story as well. God will call you to suffer in some fashion. That is without dispute. It is also without dispute that one of the things that He will provide for you so that you can have some joy and delight, is the Word of God.

Life for the believer is never completely joy free. Use what God gives you. If the incomplete Word of God could make the weeping prophet laugh, then what can the whole Word of God do for you who do not suffer as much?