“Woe is me now!” — Coming To The End Of Ourselves
I just read Jeremiah 45 this morning. It’s a short chapter. Here it is.
1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 2 Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch:
3 Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest. 4 Thus shalt thou say unto him, The Lord saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land. 5 And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.
You have to feel for Baruch. He had attached himself to Jeremiah and his ministry. I do wonder what he must have thought about as they embarked on this incredible journey together. Even though God was pretty clear with His instructions and what they were to expect, I doubt he could envision early on how it all would develop. I dare say, he might have had second thoughts.
He was probably like most young men that enter the service of God: “God will bless; God’s hand will be on us; He will manifest His power and glory; peoples’ hearts will be encouraged and challenged because they know how much we love them — this will be an incredible experience.”
And, it was.
All of that did happen; just not how he had envisioned it. He probably hoped for a better reception and results. I’m sure the canvas he had painted in his mind didn’t include fleeing for his life one day from a bunch of people that wanted him dead. Those aren’t the kind of scenes we want in the landscape of our lives.
To understand why he has arrived at the “Woe is me” stage, it might be helpful to understand his background and why he had expected things to unfold differently.
Here’s what Peter Pett in his commentary says.
“Baruch was Jeremiah’s helper and Scribe. He came from an important family. He was the grandson of Mahseiah (Jeremiah 32:12) who had been governor of Jerusalem during the reign of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:8). Baruch’s brother Seraiah was an officer at Zedekiah’s court (Jeremiah 51:59). But Baruch had bravely publicly identified himself with Jeremiah at great risk to himself, had written down his prophecies, and had bravely read some of them publicly in the Temple at Jeremiah’s request (Jeremiah 36:4-10).YHWH here indicates that Baruch had gone through at this time similar soul searching to his master. It is a reminder that it was no easier being a faithful prophet’s assistant and supporter, than it was being a faithful prophet. These could easily have been words of Jeremiah for at times he complained against his lot in a similar way (Jeremiah 15:10-21; Jeremiah 20:7-18). Master and assistant suffered together. Baruch’s complaint may indeed have occurred as a result of what followed his reading of the scroll in the Temple (Jeremiah 36:4-10). It may well be that he had expected that there would be a remarkable response to his reading of Jeremiah’s words. And in a sense there was. But it had not been what he had expected, and he had subsequently had to go into hiding along with Jeremiah. What he had hoped would be a triumph had turned out to be a disaster. We can understand his discouragement and disillusionment. He felt that YHWH had added to his already deep anguish further sorrow and pain. It is an experience endured by many of God’s servants as God brings us to an end of ourselves. And he had grown weary of his need to groan, and of the fact that he did not seem able to find rest. He had almost reached the end of his tether. But as with Baruch it is at such times that God speaks to us.”
That was too insightful to not pass on.
There are times when we all hit the “Woe is me” spots in our life. But, just like Baruch, I wonder if it’s because our initial expectations didn’t quite develop as we had hoped? It’s at those times we must remember that God is still the faithful God He always has been. It’s our perspectives that get out of focus, not His plans and purposes for our lives.
It’s kind of like when Paul says in Romans 8:28 that “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
What we don’t always realize is that the pathway of “all things work together for good” might be an unpleasant and unexpected pathway. God just might have a “Baruch Road Experience” planned to bring us to the end of ourselves. It’s not always easy but it is ofttimes necessary. Even the life Yeshua lived bears that out.
This might not be popular preaching today, but it is Biblical.
And I think Jeremiah and Baruch just might agree.
“Woe is me now!” — Coming To The End Of Ourselves