Surrogate Suffering :: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
It was 3 a.m., and Chet received a call from the city jail. His brother, Kelly, had been picked up for public intoxication in front of a bar in downtown Seattle. “I’m so sick of this,” Chet whispered to God under his breath. Chet didn’t know what to do. The first time he’d bailed Kelly out, Kelly just had a list of excuses about his reasons for returning to a lifestyle of binge drinking.
Chet prayed daily for Kelly to take a hard look at himself and realize that his problems could only be solved if he admitted he had a problem. Finally Chet got off the interstate and turned his car around. He realized that even though he loved his brother, he couldn’t be the hero in the story. Owning Kelly’s problems was putting Chet’s finances and marriage at risk. This was a time for him, as hard as it was, to be the bad guy and speak truth. Kelly had to choose to change. Chet was only responsible for challenging Kelly to evaluate his life.
This was Chet’s story, but it mimics Jeremiah’s. The true test of our intimacy with God is when we can mourn over what He mourns, love what He loves, and get angry over what makes Him angry. Like Chet, Jeremiah had a holy dissatisfaction with the way the people were living their lives. He knew God wanted more out of them, and he mourned their stubborn, rebellious actions and mind-sets. Jeremiah was in tune with God’s heart. That’s how God desires for us to be, too—surrogate sufferers on His behalf. God is honored and glorified when our hearts break for the things that break His. He invites us to see the world from His perspective, in all its glory and sorrow.