When Jeremiah was called to serve as a prophet, God told him he was literally made for it, as covered in a recent post, but Jeremiah’s response was not an enthusiastic one. Jeremiah 1:6-8 records this exchange:
“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me,
‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.’”
Even though God had just said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Jeremiah objects that he was too young and did not have the natural ability required for the job. Maybe he doubted anyone would listen to him, so God must have the wrong guy. God doesn’t disagree that Jeremiah was young (he already knew that), but knows that God’s ability is what matters, not Jeremiah’s. God knew that someday you and I would be reading Jeremiah’s words regardless of his own youth or ability. God never picks the wrong person for the job.
But if “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” why does the Scripture tell us that one of its own authors doubted and questioned God Himself?
The answer of course, is “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” We should learn not only from Jeremiah’s prophecies to the people of his time, but also from His experience with God. In hindsight, we think that because Jeremiah is a book of the Bible, of course he was able to do the work God gave him, but in the moment of his call, Jeremiah had no idea. So, when we think our ability is not enough the job at hand, we should remember Jeremiah’s youth and remember that “God does not call the equipped; He equips the called,” as the saying goes. Jeremiah learned this from his own experience, and we may learn from it as well because the Bible records it.
Also, God shows us Jeremiah’s flaws to comfort us when we feel inadequate, not only in ability but also in faith. Even if we know that “God does not call the equipped; He equips the called,” we don’t always act on that knowledge. Jeremiah doubts not only his call, but there are other examples, including when he questions why he should buy a field the Babylonians were about to seize. Doubt is not something that only some Christians feel – we are not alone in our weakness. Even the Bible’s own authors had doubt because they could not see as God sees.
God is patient when we are honest with Him about our doubts, but He is also honest with us when He says we were literally made to serve Him. No Christian is inadequate for the work God gives them, for in His power He accomplishes what He wants. He has no doubts and is faithful in providing everything we need.
Sometimes God sends us before we think we are ready, so we can learn to put our confidence in the right place like Paul, who wrote: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13