SINGLES AND DOUBLES
Father, the heavens declare your glory, the earth your love. For your greatness and tenderness, I praise you.
Read JEREMIAH 16
Day of Disaster
16 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.” 3 For this is what the Lord says about the sons and daughters born in this land and about the women who are their mothers and the men who are their fathers: 4 “They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.”
5 For this is what the Lord says: “Do not enter a house where there is a funeral meal; do not go to mourn or show sympathy, because I have withdrawn my blessing, my love and my pity from this people,” declares the Lord. 6 “Both high and low will die in this land. They will not be buried or mourned, and no one will cut themselves or shave their head for the dead. 7 No one will offer food to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even for a father or a mother—nor will anyone give them a drink to console them.
8 “And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink. 9 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Before your eyes and in your days I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in this place.
10 “When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. 12 But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’
14 “However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.
16 “But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. 17 My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. 18 I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.”
19 Lord, my strength and my fortress,
my refuge in time of distress,
to you the nations will come
from the ends of the earth and say,
“Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods,
worthless idols that did them no good.
20 Do people make their own gods?
Yes, but they are not gods!”
21 “Therefore I will teach them—
this time I will teach them
my power and might.
Then they will know
that my name is the Lord.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Bring to God every member of your close family, praying for their protection and guidance in this day.
There is a deep and reciprocal love between me and my wife, my children and my grandchildren. That love both enriches me and makes demands on me in equal measure. Without it my life would be immeasurably impoverished. My heart goes out to Jeremiah when God tells him that he is not to marry or have children. Is this a symbolic act, or is the intention to free up Jeremiah in his service to God? In fact it appears to be something very different, a tender shielding of the prophet from the pain of the ensuing bereavement and loss that many in Judah will experience when plague, violence, and famine devastate the land (vs 3,4). If he has no family, then he has no family to lose.
Singleness is not a popular option within many societies. Dating apps have multiplied, romcoms promise a happy ending in each other’s arms, multiple short-term relationships are increasingly seen as normal. Yet Jesus, ‘the author and finisher of our faith’1 was single. Although he endorsed marriage2 he acknowledged singleness as a significant option, sometimes because of circumstances but also, for some, to fulfill God’s purposes.3 The Greek word Paul uses to describe singleness in 1 Corinthians 7:7 is charisma. It is therefore a spiritual gift just as significant as healing, prophecy, and tongues.
Single people within our churches have no less need of relationship than those of us who are privileged to be married. They have no less entitlement to the pleasure of a child’s company, questioning, and play. Hugs, birthday remembrances, a shoulder to cry on, gifts and celebrations are vital expressions of their value and purpose. Maybe your church, especially in its small groups, can become a surrogate family?
What does it feel like to be single? Ask someone. Open up a conversation that compares and contrasts.
Loving Father, when all seems lost, that is when you begin to work. Help me to remember this truth and believe that you can say yes to my heart’s desires.
1 Heb 12:2, AV 2 Matt 19:4–6 3 Matt 19:10–12
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