God never promised His people an earthly life without tears. While many prophets wept for God’s people, Jeremiah’s tears were so frequent that he is known as the “weeping prophet.” Jeremiah grew tired and heartbroken over the sinful people he was trying to teach. He wished for a lodging in the wilderness where he could get away from it all (Jeremiah 9:1-2). He became so discouraged that he decided to quit preaching (Jeremiah 20:7-9). However, God’s word was in his heart like a fire burning in his bones so he would not quit. Jeremiah suffered severe persecution for his continual stand for the truth; while the false prophets were lauded, he was thrown into a dungeon and sunk down into the mire (Jeremiah 38:6). When we consider the march toward sinfulness of people of Judah, Jeremiah had much to weep over, but he also had much that could cause him to rejoice.
Psalm 126:5 says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” While tears are shed because of pain, ironically they also provide healing for the soul. Solomon said, “Sorrow is better than laughter; for by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better” (Ecclesiastes 7:3). Jeremiah could look toward God who promises the faithful that He will wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 21:4). The captain of the Babylonian army when he attacked Jerusalem let Jeremiah go free (Jeremiah 39-40). While Jeremiah had to prophesy and then see the destruction of his own homeland (Jeremiah 44:2), he could look toward a better homeland in heaven (Hebrews 11:16).
While we can feel sorry for those who suffer various pains and persecutions as a result of living faithful Christian lives, we can also regard them as spiritually blessed. Suffering causes people to desire heaven all the more. It is not an easy lesson, but those lessons that are worth the most never are. In this world we will have tribulation, but it is that tribulation that drives us to the one who can give us peace (John 16:33). Suffering will drive us to our knees in prayer to God. “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray” (James 5:13). It will drive us to read the Bible that we might benefit from “the comfort of the scriptures” (Romans 15:4).
If you are suffering, read the words of Jeremiah and draw strength from them. Let the suffering you are enduring heighten your desire to go to heaven. It is a long, arduous lesson to learn that to die and be with God is “far better” (Philippians 1:23), but it is what God is trying to teach every one of us. -Mark Day