We named our youngest son “Jeremiah.” It wasn’t after the Old Testament prophet by that name. It was after Admiral Jeremiah Denton who was the senior Prisoner of War released in 1973 around the time of our son’s birth. Our son was the 29 dentonfirst birth at the New Naval Hospital at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Jeremiah Denton survived over seven years in a Vietnam POW camp. It was seven years of torture and sub-human treatment. In a famous TV interview from the prison camp, Admiral Denton blinked out (with his eyes!) in Morse code the word “torture” while answering the questions of a Vietnamese interrogator. He was once quoted as saying, “If I had known when I was shot down that I would be there more than seven years, I would have died of despondency, of despair, but I didn’t. It was one minute at a time, one hour, one week, one year and so on. If you look at it like that, anybody can do anything.” Jeremiah Denton passed away earlier this year.

I think Jeremiah the prophet must have looked at his experiences in a similar way. He died as a prisoner of war in Egypt. But even before his own captivity he had suffered much abuse. One commentator said, “Shunned and embarrassed by his own family and friends, the prophet was no stranger to persecution. Often the ministry of the prophet was sealed with his own blood. But of all the Old Testament messengers, none is more lonely, none more maligned, none suffered the pains of his message more than the prophet Jeremiah.” I was not a believer when I named my son Jeremiah. Had I known about the prophet’s life and suffering, I probably would not have given him that name. Who would wish that kind of suffering on anyone?

God spoke to Jeremiah when he was a young teenager. In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Please note this profound truth: God makes us all. Kathy and I are the parents of our Jeremiah. Jeremiah Denton had parents also. We’re told in Jeremiah 1:1 that he is the son of Hilkiah. But the parents of these Jeremiahs did not make them. God made them! It’s wonderful theology, and biblically sound to tell children when they ask, “where did I come from, Mommy?” to tell them that they came from God. They did! And so did you and I. God had a purpose for Jeremiah’s life and he has one for each of us as well. Hopefully it won’t contain the sorrow and suffering the POW and the Prophet went through but you can be assured there will be some sorrow. Ryken observed, “God did wonderful things for Jeremiah before he was even born. He knew him. He formed him. He set him apart and appointed him…” He has done the exact same thing for us as well. Long before we were conceived in our mother’s womb or took our first breath or shed our first tear, God knew us and loved us just as He did Jeremiah!