Sometimes it’s easy to feel unseen. Powerless. Unimportant. Unable to act because of broken, evil systems.
This morning I was reading Jeremiah 38 & 39. Tucked into the devastating account of the brutal Babylonian siege against Judah is the story of Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian eunuch in King Zedekiah’s court. Everyone’s favorite Bible character, yes?
If you haven’t read this lately, check out Jeremiah 38:7-13 and 39:15-18.
A quick summary- Jeremiah has been thrown into a muddy cistern to starve during the siege because none of the kings’ officials likes the message he’s been telling them from God. Ebed-Melech sees this, has compassion on Jeremiah, and acts with such courage that he approaches the king and boldly says that what was done to Jeremiah was evil. The king then tells Ebed-Melech to go ahead and haul Jeremiah up out of the cistern and gives him 30 men to help! This wasn’t a small task, evidently! E-M doesn’t stop there. He’s concerned for Jeremiah’s comfort and safety, digs around in the king’s storehouse of old worn out clothes (an ancient goodwill pile?), and brings them so Jeremiah can cushion his armpits from the pull of the ropes as they pull him out.
This is the extra mile. Seeing injustice. Responding with courage and bold action. Going beyond what is necessary to show compassion.
Right after this passage, the city falls to the Babylonians. King Zedekiah is captured, his sons were slaughtered, the walls are broken down, the city is burned. What a horrible, terrifying time this must have been for Ebed-Melech.
But that isn’t the end of his story. God sends a message through Jeremiah specifically to Ebed-Melech. His life would be spared. He would not be given over to the men he fears (how personal is that!) because he put his trust in God. He feared God more than he feared the Babylonians.
Dear friend who feels helpless and unseen - God sees you. One who feels unimportant and overlooked - He sees. Fear Him more than you fear your fears. He is worthy. When He calls you to act in courage and boldness and compassion, do it. Go the extra mile. You are not alone.