Worn Out from Groaning

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 36; 45:1-5

I just have to chuckle when I read Baruch's complaint: "Woe to me.... l am worn out from groaning and find no rest" (45:3). Baruch had just spent several months transcribing all the words God had spoken throughout Jeremiah's entire ministry. The scribe felt exhausted and unappreciated. I can relate! Sometimes I get so frustrated that I just have to let everyone know how I feel! (I'm not recommending that approach!) But I think if I worded my complaint like Baruch, my husband and children would be quick to respond, "So why don't you just quit your groaning and go to bed?!"

It doesn't sound like God had any more sympathy than that for Baruch either! God's response went something like this (in my own words). "Take your eyes off yourself, Baruch, and look around you. If you think things are bad now, just wait till you see what's coming. If my people won't pay attention to the words you wrote on that scroll, their groaning will be much worse than yours. So forget about making any big plans for yourself. When I throw everything into chaos, you'll be uprooted too, but I promise I'll spare your life" (46:4-5; 36:2-3).

God must get tired of our whining. If we would just stop, quiet ourselves, and listen for his voice, we might see a bigger picture. We tend to get so self-focused that we forget what's really important. We don't have to look very far to find someone whose life is in chaos; many are destined for an eternity separated from God. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we should do what we can to demonstrate God's love to them while we learn and share the life-changing truths of the Bible.

After getting a glimpse of God's perspective, Baruch took the scroll to the temple and read it to the people gathered there. Then he was invited to read it to the officials. Finally, one of the officials read it to the king and his attendants. Each time the scroll was advanced, the king defiantly cut off the words that had been read and "threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire" (36:23).

How discouraging it must have been for Baruch to hear that the work he had toiled over for so long had been burned up and that he had to start all over. If he thought he had something to groan about before, his grievance was certainly multiplied! I have had similar experiences (thanks mostly to modern technology), when a project was lost or destroyed and I had to do it all over again. The first time my computer crashed, dumping more than a month's work, I went home and cried the rest of the day, then came back to work the next morning and started over. (That reminds me; it's time to back up my computer!)

"So Jeremiah took another scroll... and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them" (36:32). When I have had to re-do my work, the finished product has often turned out better and more complete than the original, with "many similar words" being added. After getting over the initial shock, I usually find that the work goes faster and easier the second time, as my knowledge and skill are strengthened. I have also had to repeat some of the same trials in life. Though it seems discouraging at first, after I press on through the repeated trial, I learn another lesson and develop more character, maturity, discipline, endurance, etc. ("And many similar lessons were added to them.") I can't say it's usually faster and easier the second (or third or fourth...) time, but I do hope I become better, not bitter, as a result.