When You Feel Like Quitting
By Gary Estacio
There are times in our lives as a believer when we get tired of serving the Lord and we wanted to give up. Sometimes life just seems to be too hard. You’ve probably experienced one of those times in your life. If you haven’t, you probably will. They seem to be universal. Sometimes life becomes so hard we feel like we have no other option than to give up. However, we have also observed many people who have gone through unimaginable experiences. Yet, they have
born up under the load and carried it well. These are people who took heart in the things of God and used their experiences to be an encouragement and an example to others.
I would like us to take a look at one of the most poignant complaint in the Bible coming from a prophet raised by God to proclaim his message. It is found in Jeremiah 20:14-20:
Cursed be the day when I was born;
Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me!
15 Cursed be the man who brought the news
To my father, saying,
“A baby boy has been born to you!”
And made him very happy.
16 But let that man be like the cities
Which the Lord overthrew without relenting,
And let him hear an outcry in the morning
And a shout of alarm at noon;
17 Because he did not kill me before birth,
So that my mother would have been my grave,
And her womb ever pregnant.
18 Why did I ever come forth from the womb
To look on trouble and sorrow,
So that my days have been spent in shame?
This is reality in human existence, even in the lives of most seasoned believers, yet we can learn from Jeremiah’s experience, to rebound and continue our journey of being maximized by the Lord for His glory.
The author of the book is the prophet Jeremiah meaning "Yahweh establishes". He was the son of Hilkiah. The Lord commanded him to write down His message to the people of Judah. Jeremiah used a scribe name Baruch to write down his dictation. The first copy of the message was destroyed by King Jehoiakim when it was read to him but they were able to produce a second copy.
Jeremiah began his ministry at about age twenty during the reign of King Josiah in 626 B.C. He enjoyed protection from the King, but when Josiah died, persecution started brought about by the idolatrous faction in Judah. Although he is still protected by some God-fearing elders, his prophecies against Judah made him the target of great persecution. When King Zedekiah rose to power, he ordered the arrest of Jeremiah because he urged the nation to submit to Babylon.
Although Jeremiah was offered a place of honor by the Babylonians for urging the Jews to submit to them, he chose to stay with his people in Palestine and minister to those who remained after the first deportation. After the murder of Gedaliah he was taken off to Egypt by fugitive, remnant Jews who refused to experience Nebuchadnezzar's reprisal. Jeremiah lived a few years in Egypt and then died there
Jeremiah’s call came in 627 BC, two years after king Josiah reached the age of twenty. That same year, Assyria’s last great king, Ashurpanal died leading to rise of an independent Babylonian state which would grow to overtake Judah. After Josiah’s death, his sons ended his religious reforms, they plotted against Babylon and were defeated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. There the subsequent deportations of the people of Judah started. Jeremiah continued to prophesy that further judgment will befall them but they did not believe him nor submitted themselves to God’s plan.
His purpose in writing this book is to warn of the impending judgment for Judah because of their idolatry and rebellion against God. He exhorted the people to repent and obey Yahweh, or else they be judged. He witnessed Judah’s unrepentance even after his so much pleading, thus he himself experienced the devastation brought about by the judgment of God to Judah.
When things got severely unbearable, the people of God whine, complain and gripe. Look at what Jeremiah’s reaction in v. 14 “Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! We may say this is an overreaction, but sometimes we find ourselves throwing pity parties over things much lesser than what he was going through.
Reasons why we want to give up: vv. 7-10
1. Misaligned expectations v. 7
O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me.
There is a tendency for the people of God to wish they would have never set out to heed the call of God when difficulties and discouragements sets in. When the reward does not correspond to the efforts and nothing happens after extensive ministering. To them the best option is to quit, thrown in the towel and abandon the task.
2. Rejection and frustration vv. 8, 9
For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the Lord has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
When we are bold in our faith, we get tired of people rejecting us. When we try to stand for Christ, we get tired of people pushing back against that. When we try hard to proclaim the message of God and it seems nothing is happening or we see very few signs of progress and we get frustrated.
3. Persecution v. 10
For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, Watching for my fall, say: “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him And take our revenge on him.”
Persecution will really make things hard for us. We will get tired. Feeling of not getting enough and carrying unfair load will besets us.
The right response: vv. 9, 11-13
1. Remember your service is important to God who called you: v. 9
But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
He is the One who put that fire in our hearts. Its heat will not be diminished until it is quenched. He will not stop nor relent until his purposes and will are accomplished in and through His servant. What an encouraging thought. That means He will enable us to do it, yet we are not to forget what comes along with our calling. We are to:
Deny self: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. Matthew 16:24.
Carry cross: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” - Luke 14:27.
Count the cost: “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28.
Be ready to be Persecuted: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” - Matthew 5:11-12.
2. Remember the omnipotence of God who called you. vv. 11-12
But the Lord is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. 12 Yet, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause.
If we know that what we are doing is the work of God, we will find that His grace will keep us along with the task. Whatever setback and injuries do to us, learn to leave them into the just hand of God. His justice will prevail. Even the very situation that we are in can give glory to God knowing that His promises of comfort never fails, His divine presence to comfort us will never be diminished. So we must open up to God what we go through and see His deliverance displayed.
3. Remember to worship God who called you v. 13
“Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one From the hand of evildoers.”
Jeremiah’s resolve is to sing praises to God despite of what’s he’s going through. He knows his God very well that he believe He will see him through in all of these. Worship denotes our total trust and confidence upon the Lord. The moment we begin to worship God even the midst of difficulties, that’s when we find strength to continue. Remember Paul and Silas in Acts 16:
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
No amount of hardships and persecution prevented them from worshipping the Lord. Because they knew the Lord whom they worship.
Now, there is warning for each one of us. It’s a warning sign when our primary emotion towards God is resentment: Read vv. 14-18.
“Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me!” –wow! Really??
After Jeremiah’s faithful belief in the Lord, declaration of His trust and resolve to worship Lord in verses 11-13, here we see a picture of someone who is expressing poignant resentment towards God, someone who resents having been brought into this world by God. Weird!
Some scholars believed that there is some little time in between vv. 11-13 and 14-18 when they were written. Things change, but nevertheless, it is weird, yet it reflects reality in the lives of God’s people.
I have experienced it myself where everything is wonderful for the Lord has been blessing me with victories over trials and sickness only to find myself disheartened and discouraged as I face other difficulties. It could happen in a matter of hours.
Let us be careful when resentment becomes the primary emotion that we’re feeling toward God,
Jeremiah’s feeling of resentment is not extremely rare. We read in different parts of the scriptures when God’s servant resented having to continue to do the thankless task he was assigned to. We read depression or weariness that resulted for a follower of God wanting to quit. Similarly in our case, there are instances when our prayers are not being answered by God and we end up being resentful towards Him.
We know this truth: the Christian journey is not going to be victory after victory, nor joy after joy. There are challenges and difficulties that we struggle with every now and then.
However, we know also the truth that God gives grace after grace, and He desires a genuine believer to continue his journey no matter how arduous, for His glory and for the best of his children. It’s not only in God’s best interest – it’s in our’s as well. The commitment we made when we began was to finish what we started God intends to finish what He began.
Philippians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God pushes us on because He knows the result is worth the struggle. He is not going to abandon us, nor leave us behind even when we’ve lost the strength to walk forward. His grace is enough to make us willing to continue. What a God we have.
Throughout history, the sides of the road of faith is littered of those who served for a season because they quit. When the going got tough, they stopped and did not continue. There are too many who have only shown an outward sign of faith. Imagine yourself being one of them. At the end of this life, how can you not shrink at the appearing of the great Judge?
The God that we worship is so sweet and faithful. Even in the midst of our complaints, He reminds us that He is in full control, and that He knows what you’re going through. Sometimes He gives us seasons of rest, sometimes He gives us support of endearing people, sometimes He disciplines and wakes us up to make us realize we are doing everything on our own strength, and sometimes He give us wisdom and new sense of understanding about our situation and gives us fresh start.
Friends, struggle and difficulty are part of the deal when God signed us up for the work. The truth is, we are not the one in-charge. He is. The Almighty Creator and sustainer and heaven and earth. The God whom we are able to call “Abba Father”. He will never leave nor forsake us in our endeavor for Him.
Jeremiah was enlisted, he suffered hardships, rejection and persecution, he complained, yet the Lord sustained him for he is the one who said:
21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses [a]indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
Watch the video of this devotional here.