In the Chimney

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire. – Jeremiah 38:6.

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Of course, we would never of our own free will, let ourselves down into a dungeon filled with mud like Jeremiah’s enemies did. However, I have read countless stories of people trying to obtain access to houses by going down a chimney. It has happened again in Brawley, California. Matthew Allen, who is 27-years-old, did have an original reason for having gone down the chimney. His reason? He fell into the chimney while he was on the roof of the house looking at the stars. As always happens, Matthew became stuck. He finally took off some clothes and waved them around until motion detectors were set off. Fire Captain Manuel Sevilla had this to say, “I’ve read and heard of things like that before but I’ve never seen it. The situation, it was more funny than anything.” They rescued Matthew by using a chain ladder they let down into the chimney.

The apostle Peter makes it clear that for Christians it is always better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. In making that clear, Peter is also giving us a warning that sometimes bad things happen including suffering, to the children of God. In the Old Testament, Jeremiah suffers for his faithfulness in proclaiming the prophecy that God had given him to proclaim. The king and the officials of the kingdom did not like the message so they tried to shut Jeremiah up. Out of sight and hopefully out of mind, down in the mire of the dungeon. But God always knows where His servants are at. The king relented when he was confronted with the condition of the prophet by Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian. Thirty men were sent with Ebed-Melech to pull Jeremiah out of the mire. After that, the king sent for Jeremiah and this time asked to listen to the whole truth of the prophecy of God. Jeremiah suffered but through that suffering, the king came to have a desire to hear what God had to say to him.

No, there will not always be a rescue party that arrives just in time to pull us out of the dungeon or the chimney. In the roll call of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, we are told of many who were not rescued, “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:35-37).”

What do you do if you have fallen into the chimney and it was because of those who meant evil toward you and toward your God? You remain faithful. You pray for the rescue party to come. You pray for the rope to be let down for you to climb up. You pray for God’s will to be done. However, you must have the attitude of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who told the king just before being thrown into the fiery furnace, “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).” “But if not” – they planned to remain faithful and we must too.

(What do you do when you are in a bad place in your life through only having done what is right?)

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