You are my refuge in the day of disaster
Jeremiah 17:14-17 Let’s finish 2023 by praying that God show us His mercy and grace in the coming year, and expressing our faith in His protection and guidance regardless of what comes to pass.
Horace Vernet, Jeremiah on the Ruins of Jerusalem (1844)
”Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come now!” But as for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd after You, Nor have I longed for the woeful day; You Yourself know that the utterance of my lips Was in Your presence. Do not be a terror to me; You are my refuge in the day of disaster.“
Jeremiah 17:14-17 NASB1995
For my last devotional for the year of 2023, I was pointed toward the prophet Jeremiah. The “weeping prophet” was the author of not only the Book of Jeremiah, but also Lamentations and Kings. His personal struggles, as well as those of the downfall and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, are captured in detail in his writings.
In this section of chapter 17, Jeremiah expresses his confidence that healing or salvation from Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel whom the people of Judah had forsaken, would be true healing or rescue. The prophet doesn’t explain why he is in need of healing; whether it is physical or spiritual healing is not important. God heals both our spiritual and physical needs.
Jeremiah uses the somewhat odd phrase “You are my praise” after making it known that he is totally confident of being healed and saved. Jeremiah is declaring his trust in God’s mercy and grace, with his hope and confidence in God alone. He has rock-solid faith in God’s power to heal, save, and protect him.
The prophet tells God that the people are being impatient, wanting Him to reveal His plans and resolve their problems. But Jeremiah remains patient, and he defends his ministry before God. In saying “I have not hurried away from being a shepherd that follows You,” Jeremiah shows his confidence in following God’s call. When he says “Nor have I longed for the woeful day,” Jeremiah is pointing out to God that delivering the message of Judah’s coming judgment is a difficult thing for him to do. Although he’s been frequently passing along this message to the people, Jeremiah would rather not see that judgment being meted out. If you knew for certain that your community or nation was going to be destroyed, wouldn’t you tell God you’d rather not see that happen?
He continues his justification of his ministry before God, saying “You know what came out of my lips” because he knows that God hears and judges his prophecy, and knows that it is faithful to God’s voice and heart.
Jeremiah ends this part of his prayer pleading to God “Do not be a terror to me”. He is asking God to be merciful and compassionate towards him, protecting him from his enemies. He finishes by saying “You are my refuge in the day of disaster”, showing his faith in God’s protection and guidance as the day of judgment looms nearer.
In our time, we really have no Jeremiah to warn of coming judgment and appeal to God on our behalf. 2024 could be just another year, or it could be filled with worsening conflict, discord, persecution, disease, and war. Let’s finish 2023 by praying that God show us His mercy and grace in the coming year, and expressing our faith in His protection and guidance regardless of what comes to pass.
Detail of the Prophet Jeremiah. Church of Panagia tou Arakos, nave, center bay, drum, wall paintings, Lagoudera, Cyprus. Wikimedia Commons.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Heavenly Father, as your faithful servants approach the end of one year and move into the next, we have no prophets to warn us of disaster or impending judgment. We can find peace in the assurance, purchased for us by the selfless sacrifice of Your son Jesus on the cross, of an eternal life with You regardless of how the future unfolds. You are my praise, and you are my refuge. AMEN.