The Paradoxical Prophet

“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation” (Jer 15:16-17).

Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th century pastor and one of the greatest preachers of all times, suffered from bouts of depression. On the one hand, he was always surrounded by people who came from all over England to hear his brilliant expositions of God's word. On the other hand, he carried a constant burden of loneliness his entire life. Charles Spurgeon's emotional isolation should not surprise us. Jeremiah struggled with it too. According to Jeremiah 15:16-17, the prophet was simultaneously filled with “joy” in God's word and “indignation” at the ways of the world.

For lovers of God, this paradox (being joy-filled and deeply saddened at the same time) is not the sign of abnormality.

It is, as Watchmen Nee would call it, “the normal Christian life.” It is evidence of a healthy spiritual life. And to the extent that we find more joy in God's word, we will find less contentment and more isolation in the world.

“Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words. I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great spoil. I hate and despise falsehood, But I love Your law” (Ps 119:161-163).

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