Abraham had to leave all he had ever known to go to an unknown land. Moses had to overcome his own feelings of inadequacy and weakness. Joshua had to receive the divine gifts of strength and courage. Isaiah had to experience God's mercy and receive the gift of forgiveness. Each of these great leaders had their own personal challenges they had to overcome in order to answer God's call in their lives. They each had to come to a deeper place of trust and dependence upon God.
The story of Jeremiah is no different. However, for Jeremiah, it was his young age that caused him to feel unprepared and ill equipped to respond to God's call on his life. Moreover, Jeremiah lived in a time when the people of Israel were in no mood to here a prophetic message from God. He knew he would likely face ridicule and persecution if he lived the life God was calling him to live. But God responds to Jeremiah's doubt with powerful words of affirmation and encouragement.
I Knew You Before You Were Born
The Lord affirms Jeremiah's call by reminding him that God's appointment of Jeremiah as a prophet came before he was even born. God's purpose for Jeremiah was ordained while he was still in his mother's womb. Therefore, Jeremiah's age is of no consequence; the calling and anointing of God have been upon Jeremiah from the very beginning. The mission to which Jeremiah is called is something that transcends his own existence. This mission is God's mission and Jeremiah has been appointed and anointed as a messenger, an ambassador of the Lord!
I Have Put My Words In Your Mouth
The affirmation of Jeremiah's call is quickly followed by the promise that God has placed his words within Jeremiah. The prophetic message that Jeremiah is to proclaim has already been given to him by God. Therefore, Jeremiah need not feel unprepared or ill equipped, because God, by his Spirit, has already entrusted Jeremiah with all he needs to fulfill God's mission.
On a personal note, the call of Jeremiah has been source of continual encouragement in my own spiritual journey. As a teenager, I was in the process of discerning a call to ordained ministry and the word of God spoken to Jeremiah resonated deep within me - I knew you before you were born. I have consecrated you and appointed you. I have put my words in your mouth!
Today, take some time to reflect on the amazing news that God knows you intimately. He knew you before you were born. He has consecrated you and appointed you to be his messenger. He has placed his word of truth deep within your heart.