“I would comfort myself in sorrow; my heart is faint in me” (Jeremiah 8:18).

JEREMIAH, THE GREAT PROPHET, OUGHT TO BE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO THOSE WHO SUFFER AND THOSE WHO SORROW. He was the brokenhearted prophet, the man who drew the assignment of delivering God’s message of doom to Jerusalem in its last days. Jeremiah loved God, but he also loved God’s people, sinful though they were. Having a sensitive heart, he could not have done his duty without weeping at the tragedy of sin. By his faithfulness to what was right, and also by his sympathy for his peers, he shows us that there is a higher calling than the call to happiness.

Modern people tend to think that if they’re not happy, there must be something wrong with them. We pursue the happy, “well-adjusted” personality as the summum bonum, the ultimate good. But mere happiness is a questionable priority even in secular matters, and it is certainly not the primary object of religion.

Listen to this penetrating comment by Malcolm Muggeridge on the pursuit of happiness: “Of all the different purposes set before mankind, the most disastrous is surely ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ slipped into the American Declaration of Independence along with ‘life and liberty’ as an unalienable right . . . Happiness is like a young deer, fleet and beautiful. Hunt him, and he becomes a poor frantic quarry; after the kill, a piece of stinking flesh.”

Things like happiness, ease, and pleasure are fine, but it is not always possible to have them while we’re “on the job.” Now is the time for work. Now is the time for struggle against sin. As we faithfully enter into the various assignments the Lord has for us, we should expect to be assailed with sorrows and uncertainties. It is perfectly natural to respond to the difficulties of our duty like Jeremiah: with a broken heart. So let us have a higher goal than being “well-adjusted.” Let us have the goal of truth — at all costs.

“Jeremiah refutes the popular, modern notion that the end of religion is an integrated personality, freed of its fears, its doubts, and its frustrations. Certainly Jeremiah was no integrated personality. It is doubtful if to the end of his tortured existence he ever knew the meaning of the word ‘peace’ . . . The summons of faith is neither to an integrated personality nor to the laying by of all questions, but to the dedication of the personality — with all its fears and questions — to its duty and destiny under God” (John Bright).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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