Perspective

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” ’

“Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’” (Jeremiah 45:1-5)

Losing perspective is very easy. Baruch, the man who had served as Jeremiah’s secretary for years, writing down the words that he received from God, was overcome by his own suffering and fell into despair. God told him to get over it. In the first place, it wasn’t all about him. In the second place, God promised to protect him and keep him alive, no matter where he went, no matter what he had to face.
When everything goes wrong, it is hard to avoid Baruch’s attitude. All we want then is for the pain to go away. When we face financial ruin, when someone close to us dies, when we become seriously ill, the only thing that can make us feel good, the only thing we care to hear, is that we have money, that our loved one is not really dead, or that there is a miracle cure that will make us all better.

God told Baruch not to seek great things for himself. Instead, he should be satisfied to simply be alive. Bad things happen in life and if you’re going to be alive, you’re going to experience some bad things. That’s how it works. The question Baruch had to answer for himself, and that we need to answer for ourselves, is simply this: isn’t a life with God enough?

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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