The the prophet Jeremiah had it rough. He was not very liked by the Israelites because even though the message he was preaching was straight from God's mouth the people didn't want to hear it. It was a message that conveyed days of slavery and suffering for a people who struggled to remain faithful to their God.
A covenant had been made.
God kept His side.
The people did not.
They made gods for themselves and of themselves,
they allowed the world to mold their worldview and their identity.
(Does this sound familiar?)
Sin has a consequence.
They no longer had God's protection and provision.
The Babylonians had surrounded them and taken them.
They were a people without a home, a name, an identity, or hope.
Things looked grim for Israel and for Jeremiah for he was in prison when he received this word from God:
36 “You are saying about this city, ‘By the sword, famine and plague it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon’; but this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:
37 I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.
38 They will be my people, and I will be their God.
39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.
40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.
41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
42 “This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.
There’s more to our external circumstances than we can see.
God is at work.
God seems to be telling the prophet that there is meaning and purpose in the midst of hard times.
The hard times are not the end of their or our story.
They weren’t the end for Israel or Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was able to come out of prison and continue his role as prophet.
Israel was delivered from the hands of the Babylonians and was given rich land.
God will never stop doing good to us!
Even though they seemed to be a people without identity, name or hope.
Their hope was restored, their hearts returned to Him and God's promises came to pass.
God of mercy and grace,
I confess that at times I feel you are so far
My situation and pain seem overwhelming
They blind me
I draw away from you
I doubt your existence
I forget your promises.
Speak oh God.
If you have already spoken and I didn't hear.
Please speak to me again.
Give me hope, restore my strength, show me the way, heal my heart.
In Christ's name. Amen.
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.