Jeremiah once received the following message from the Lord: “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘If you return, then I shall bring you back; you shall stand before Me’” (cf. Jeremiah 15: 19). This is taken from the professions of Jeremiah, where the prophet comes to terms with the burdens of his prophetic ministry: Jeremiah had accepted the word of God as though it were food—that is, gladly and hungrily—but then he found himself unable to rejoice. He did not spend his time with other people, laughing and having a good time, but because he felt God’s hand upon him he stayed by himself. This is how heavy the responsibility weighed on him to declare God’s word. It was in this context that God granted the prophet the aforementioned message of comfort.
Let us take these words as a divine promise that also applies to us. If we return to the Lord, that is, if we stay with Him, the Lord will also acknowledge Himself to us. That is how simply we can express our relationship with the Lord! Indeed, it is that simple, but we could also question this statement: “If we return to the Lord, will the Lord really acknowledge Himself to us?” Perhaps one or the other is thinking: “Just look at him. He has always served God and always brought sacrifices, he always worked hard for the Lord, and yet things are not going well for him now.”
I still stand by these words. Somehow, sometime, and somewhere the Lord will visibly acknowledge Himself to those who stay with Him. Perhaps this is not always apparent immediately. Perhaps it will not always be perceptible in natural matters either, but it certainly will be visible when one looks at everything as a whole. After all, everything will only be revealed on the day of the Lord. And beyond that, it is up to the sovereign discretion of God as to when and how He will acknowledge Himself to us.
If we return to the Lord, if we stay with Him, He will acknowledge Himself to us, and we will feel this. But it is not always that easy either. We may think: “Well, of course we hold to the Lord!” But are we really doing so? The example of Jeremiah shows us that the Lord has high expectations. The prophet lamented that the burden of his office and the responsibility of serving as a prophet had become very difficult for him. He complained that, alas, he had not gone looking for such a task! But it was then that this divine message reached him—and in it one can even detect a little reproach from the Lord: “If you return, then I shall bring you back; you shall stand before Me.” Despite his complaints and despite the resistance his message often met with, Jeremiah held to the Lord. May this serve as an example to us!
The events surrounding Jeremiah also demonstrate that it is not always so easy to stay with the Lord. For example, when we complain—and who does not?—saying: “Why do things have to be this way? Couldn’t the Lord acknowledge Himself a little more clearly to me?” Perhaps we have invested one or the other thing and the anticipated success has not materialised. After all, many different thoughts pass through our minds in the course of a day—and to then hold fast to the Lord in all things, even in the little matters, certainly requires a concentrated effort. But those who really do this—even in the little things—will also experience that the Lord acknowledges Himself to them. There are indeed certain periods of suffering through which we must go. There are various things which we cannot so easily gloss over or explain away, but nevertheless we experience that the Lord ultimately always acknowledges Himself to those who hold fast to Him. That is what I wish each and every one of you with all my heart. May each one make this experience again anew! I will also pray for this and will hold fast unwaveringly to this divine truth: those who hold fast to the Lord will also find that the Lord acknowledges Himself to them!
(From a divine service by Chief Apostle Leber)