They will fight you, but they will fail, For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken! –Jeremiah 1:19
The power of God is so easily forgotten in our tangible world.
Ever since I was a kid I have struggled with being bashful and timid. I hated answering the phone or talking to grown-ups. I was afraid I would say the wrong thing, or even worse, not know what to say at all.
This morning I read through the first chapter of the prophet Jeremiah’s story. He was much like me. He was afraid that he was too young and lacked authority to speak out to people. But God spoke to him like a parent charging his son with a great job to be accomplished. He reminded Jeremiah that he would not have to go it alone. But God was also forceful telling Jeremiah not to be afraid, or he will make him look foolish.
That statement was profound to me. As a parent now, I read that and think maybe that was too harsh. But sometimes tough love is a parent’s best tool.
I remember back to a defining time in my childhood when my mother gave me some tough love. She doesn’t know it, but this moment gave me the strength to be as successful as I am now. I remember I was quivering about a business related phone call I had to make. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. I begged my mom, saying, “Can you just do it for me?” She looked me back in the eyes and said, “Tom, if you don’t learn to be assertive in life, you’re going to struggle.” She was right. If we don’t stand up and act and do something for ourselves, knowing that God is right there beside us, people will overtake us. People will use and abuse us if we remain idle.
I was listening to the Dave Ramsey Show the other day and Dave was talking with a guest speaker named John O’leary. John shared briefly his story of how at the age of 9 he was severely burned and nearly died. He lost his fingers and couldn’t walk again for a long time into his recovery. He recalled a moment of tough love with his mom. It was the first night back home from the hospital. His mother had made his favorite food. As his family sat around the dinner table, John realized he couldn’t eat his meal because he had no fingers to grasp his fork. His sister went to help feed him, but his mother interjected. She told the sister that if John wanted to eat this food, he will figure out a way to feed himself. That must have been so painful to hear from his mother, but today he remembers that moment as the moment where his mom taught him to live in this world with no boundaries to accomplish what God has for him in life.