A PAINFUL PROCESS
Lord, help me to see people as You see them.
Read JEREMIAH 4:19–31
19 Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.
20 Disaster follows disaster;
the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
my shelter in a moment.
21 How long must I see the battle standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 “My people are fools;
they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
they know not how to do good.”
23 I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
and their light was gone.
24 I looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.
25 I looked, and there were no people;
every bird in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
all its towns lay in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely.
28 Therefore the earth will mourn
and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
I have decided and will not turn back.”
29 At the sound of horsemen and archers
every town takes to flight.
Some go into the thickets;
some climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted;
no one lives in them.
30 What are you doing, you devastated one?
Why dress yourself in scarlet
and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup?
You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
they want to kill you.
31 I hear a cry as of a woman in labor,
a groan as of one bearing her first child—
the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands and saying,
“Alas! I am fainting;
my life is given over to murderers.”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Does the deterioration of our modern society cause you to grieve at all? Do you sigh over the abominations committed in your city (Ezek. 9:4)?
Sometimes one hears or reads someone denouncing the awful behavior of some in our midst. Not a bad thing, you might think — surely that is exactly what Jeremiah is doing. However, it seems that occasionally — or even, with some, often — the accuser seems to enjoy it all, reveling in the thought that those on the receiving end will face judgment. There is no hint of the deep love and the stifling pain expressed in our current passage. It is not always exactly clear when Jeremiah is expressing his own feelings and when he is speaking for God. He knows that God feels the same way that he does. He regards the situation and knows that he must declare punishment and destruction, a scenario that causes him grief and anguish. His dismay stems from the fact that the people are ignoring God and forgetting his requirements — not to mention what they will have to face as a result.
Sometimes we sense that God is calling us to speak out, denouncing the wrongs that we observe around us in society, in government, in the media, or even in the lives of individual people. However, if the thought of doing such a thing does not bring about some anguish—because we care about these people, we know that God loves them and we know that God himself hurts because of their behavior — then we likely have mistaken that particular calling. Surely, neither an arrogant judgmentalism nor a callous condemnation apart from the love of Jesus should characterize the modern prophet.
Look hard today at the society we live in. Ask God to help us to understand his attitude to the people and their behavior and to share his love and his pain.
Lord, help me to more fully understand Your personal grief over the half-hearted commitment of Your people in this day and age.