Jeremiah’s fear of public speaking

I apologize for the delay in continuing the study of Jeremiah Chapter 1.  Unexpected personal issues have set me back a bit.  Prayers for my health would be greatly appreciated. But without further adieu, here is the second part of my study of Jeremiah 1.

Last time, I spoke about what it would mean for Jeremiah to be God’s prophet.  This would surely bring persecution and discrimination against poor Jeremiah.

And he was scared.  But the thing that Jeremiah was most scared about wasn’t the promise of persecution.  No, poor Jeremiah was afraid of what he would say.

Ah. Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” (Jer. 1:6)

He was most likely afraid of both what God wanted him to say that would lead to persecution, and what he would say in retaliation to persecution.

According to verse 6, when God called Jeremiah to be his ambassador, Jeremiah was not yet an adult.

Can you relate?  Are you a teen who cringes every time a teacher mentions the words “oral report” or “speech”? How about you adults?  Do presentations at work or public addresses for your volunteer work cause your stomach to do flip-flops and your palms go sweaty?  If so, you’re not alone.

According to Chapman University’s 2014 comprehensive research survey study of American fears, the same percentages of the American population (about 9%) fear being a victim of a mass or random shooting, and public speaking.  Other reports distinguish between the extreme form of public speaking called glossophobia and a regular fear of public speaking.

Forbes claims that eighty-percent of the population has regular fear of public speaking, ten-percent have the physically and mentally debilitating glossophobia, and the other ten-percent of the population are weird and love to speak “in front of a crowd.”

If you’re part of the ninety-percent of the population that has some aversion to public speaking, you’re likely to imagine just what was going through young Jeremiah’s head when God told him that he would be a messenger for God to nations that wouldn’t be very receptive to what he had to say.

But God assured Jeremiah that he didn’t have to worry.  God told him that he would provide Jeremiah with the words.

Do not say, I am only a youth; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer. 1:7). jeremiah1sixandseven

God then “touched [Jeremiah’s] mouth” (Jer. 1:9) and said to him

Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.”

Jesus also reminded his disciples (and us) that when persecution comes, the Holy Spirit provides the words to say to those who are doing the persecuting.

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.  When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.  For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt. 10:16-20).

When people make fun of you, discriminate against you or persecute you because of your faith in Christ, you may be afraid. Don’t worry, you’re in very good company.

At one point or another, every great person of faith was afraid. And many were afraid of speaking to those who had power to do harm.

Moses was afraid to speak out against Pharaoh. The prophets and apostles were afraid at times.

Yet, they persevered in times of trouble and persecution because they relied upon the one who sent them to do the talking.

God calls us all to be his ambassadors, just as he called Moses, Jeremiah and the Apostles.

This can and will lead to discrimination or persecution.

But, we can be comforted that God will be right there with us, giving us the words to say to our persecutors just as he did Jeremiah and the apostles. He loves us just as much as he loved Moses, Jeremiah and the Apostles.

When we are confronted by people who make fun of us, discriminate against us, or hurt us, God is right there comforting us, and providing the words that he would like to have spoken to those who are hurting us.

So you need not worry about your fear of public speaking, especially in times of persecution.  God will be there with you, providing all the words.


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