Jeremiah lived between the seventh and sixth centuries BC. He prophesied the fall of Judah and condemned the idolatrous practices of the people. The priests and rulers did not like what he was saying and Jeremiah was beaten, put in the stocks and eventually thrown down a well, where he was left to starve to death. God, however, looked after him, and not only was he rescued by a slave but the Baylonian King Nebuchadnezzar - who had conquered Jerusalem - ordered that Jeremiah should be well treated.
Prophetic voices upset the comfort of the status quo and vested interests. This is true today, when people in power deny climate change. There are a great many leaders who ruthlessly crush dissent, sometimes with barbaric punishments, and where this is not possible use subtler means to suppress criticism. Yet there are many courageous men and women in the world who continue to proclaim their messages, often in the face of torture, imprisonment and even death. Churches themselves are not free of resistance to new ideas and need constantly be on the watch for complacency and rigorous enforcement of laws, where compassion is needed.
Jesus, God’s Word made man, was crucified, because his message of love did not suit the establishment. He talks of his father knowing when even a sparrow falls and of the hairs on our heads being counted. We are infinitely loved and know that God is with us in all our anxiety and suffering, as he was with Jeremiah. Sometimes, when bad things happen, we wonder where he is and echo the cry of Jesus on the cross:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46 & psalm 22)
Yet after that agonising cry came the victory of the resurrection.