Chapter 20 contains the last of Jeremiah’s “confessions,” complaints against God, an outpouring weakness of faith.
John Skinner writes: “[Jeremiah’s confessions] bare the inmost secrets of the prophet’s life, his fightings without and fears within, his mental conflict with adversity, and doubt and temptation, and the reaction of his whole nature on a world that threatened to crush him and a task whose difficulty overwhelmed him. There is nothing quite like them in the range of devotional literature.”
You see it plainly here.
Jeremiah is guilty of nothing but speaking the word of God. He would like not to be so convicted, but he is. Many has been the time that he would like not to speak the message of the Lord, but he cannot contain it. Why? Because Jeremiah loves God’s people as much as God loves His people. God must warn them, despite the fact He knows they are not listening – and so must Jeremiah. For his trouble, Jeremiah is beaten and placed in stocks.
Jeremiah feels abused. God has called him to ministry, and all it has gotten him is pain. He pours out the injustice of it all to God in verses 7-10.
In verse 11, we might be led to think Jeremiah confidently knows God has neither abandoned him nor done him wrong, but that’s not the way to read it. Jeremiah wishes he could be this confident, but he is not. Beginning in verse 14, Jeremiah wishes he was dead.
Have you know a time when you felt betrayed by God, even abandoned? Perhaps a time when you wondered “what’s it all about?” or “why me?”
You are not alone. I think it is one of the advantages of having this book. We see how someone else felt we know God used in a grand way. We know the end of the story, and despite the fact Jeremiah ends without a grand hallelujah, we end the reading confident of Jeremiah’s place with God. It’s an encouragement to press on when days are dark.