Did you catch how Paul acknowledged the audience? The people of Colosse are introduced as holy and faithful brothers and sisters. What a high honor Paul uses in greeting them. How would someone introduce you and your character?
Interesting to note, Paul had never visited Colosse. The church was founded by someone Paul had converted elsewhere. As often happens, young churches are easily infiltrated by unhealthy trends. It is my understanding the Colossians have been combining elements of paganism and secular philosophy with Christian doctrine. Paul and Timothy write to nip that in the bud so the people can get back on the right track. The timeless truths of this letter focus on the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ.
All along I have been amazed at Jeremiah’s fortitude in staying strong. God has been giving him extremely difficult messages to share as well as employing teachable moments to warn the people. Jeremiah continues to be dutiful in his mission despite any exhaustion or frustration. But in today’s reading, it seems he’s had enough!
Jeremiah’s brutal honesty is striking as he cries out to God. We can only begin to imagine the emotions coursing through his veins. He’s desperate, feeling he’s on display. Jeremiah believes he’s been overtaken and even misled by God. Have you ever felt such anguish in your faith journey? Have you ever questioned God’s intentions or whether he was even listening?
Do you ever doubt yourself or what you are doing? That used to be a constant state of living for me when I was in an abusive relationship. It doesn’t take someone else to make us question our choices, we often do a fine job of that on our own, especially if we’ve gotten “burned” before.
This reading starts with a statement that we’ve probably heard before out of context. Now we can see and understand the full beauty of this text. “Lord, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble!” Jeremiah recognized the source of his provision and protection. From what we’ve been reading, we can only imagine how weak Jeremiah felt.
Imagine Paul just prayed this prayer for you. Paul was asking God to provide these things for his friends. Even if Paul didn’t particularly have you in mind, all these years later let me direct this prayer to you. I’ll use Paul’s words because they are just that good. And timely.
Am I the only one that feels overwhelmed when I turn on the news? I’ve started getting my news from a Christian source that has already sifted through all the noise of the media to pick the stories that seem to be most fact-filled. As a writer, it’s hard to admit that other writers (journalists) are seemingly being manipulated by society to write with a certain slant or bias. Have you noticed that the same stories sound different depending on who is telling the story?
Have you ever been an athlete training for a big game or sporting event? It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I really understood the intense discipline it takes athletes to prepare. I thought being a kickboxing instructor had been the epitome of my athleticism until my husband and I found a karate dojo in our new town. We began training for our black belt certification, and I’ll never forget the grueling four-hour test of my strength, will, and endurance.
Paul’s talk of running a race and being disciplined in training brought all those memories back for me. It’s also helpful to note that Paul’s original audience would have been very familiar with a sporting event, much like the Olympics, which was held every two years in Corinth called the Isthmian Games. Paul’s words would have been very powerful because of this association.