Alas, Sovereign Lord,I said,I do not know how to speak; I am too young.But the Lord said to me,Do not say,declares the Lord.I am too young.You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,Jeremiah 1:6-8
Jeremiah's response is to shrink from the call of God. Many a young man had done that before him. This is what Moses did, and Gideon, and Isaiah, and other mighty men of God. When God first laid hold of them and set them to a task, they shrank from it. Jeremiah pleads youth and inexperience, says he has no ability to speak, just as Moses did. So if you ever feel that way when God calls you to a task, just remember that you are in the prophetic succession! God's servants often start out that way.
As best we can tell, Jeremiah was about 30 years old at this time. That is when young men began their ministry in Judah. By modern youth that is considered over the hill, beyond the time a man is capable of doing anything. But that is when God starts. Jesus was thirty years old when he began his ministry. Yet Jeremiah feels his inadequacy and his inexperience and his inability.
This, I think, marks the sensitivity of this young man. Throughout this whole prophecy you find him very responsive and sensitive to what is happening to him. He is called to stand before kings, to thunder denunciations and judgments, to feel the sharp lash of their recrimination against him, to endure their anger and their power, and to suffer with his people as he sees them rushing headlong to their own self-destruction. He feels this keenly and sharply, and weeps and laments. The book of Lamentations is made up of the cries of his heart, as he senses all that is happening to him. Jeremiah was a very sensitive young man, and a very sensitive prophet.
But God's answer to him is what it has been to every other young person who felt this way:
Go, for I am with you. Don't worry about your voice, your looks, your personality, your ability — I will be with you. I will be your voice. I'll speak through you, give you the words. I'll give you the power to stand. I'll give you the courage. I'll be your wisdom. I'll be whatever you need. Whatever demand is made upon you, I'll be there to meet it.
You and I recognize that this, essentially, is the New Covenant that Jesus makes with all of us. This is what he promises each one of us — that he will be with us in the same way. The promise which encouraged Jeremiah is the same promise which is handed out to you and to me in the gospel — that whatever we are, whatever demand is made upon us,
Do not be afraid. Do not shrink back. Do not say, Remember that God says,
I can't do that.
I will be with you, and I will make you able to do it.
Lord, I know that you call those who are not adequate themselves, and I confess that this is me. Teach me to put my confidence not in my own abilities but in yours.
Do we lose heart when considering the enormity of God's calling in our individual circumstances? Does God ever leave us alone and undefended? Do we need to reassess the power of his Presence and provision in us as his servants?