Lectionary Reading: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 (NRSV)
When our son David was five years old, we were hosting an afterschool tutoring program at our church in Piedmont. He was on the playground as the day was finishing, enjoying the older children for some unscheduled time together.
Unfortunately as he was standing atop the slide, getting ready to go down, another child pushed him in the back and he went off sideways. His arm was obviously broken and we rushed him to the hospital.
It was a rather bad break that required surgery. As Sheryl eventually took him home from the hospital, he was looking rather despondently at his new cast. He asked his mother, “How many more minutes do I have to have this thing on?”
Sheryl said that it broke her heart to tell him that his expectations were off by a magnitude.
There are times in our lives when we must adjust to difficult circumstances.
Sometimes it has to do with our health. There are diagnoses that we recover from and others that we must learn to live with. Even worse are those that cause deterioration and are fatal. Our attitudes in dealing with these new conditions may factor into our recovery or they may contribute to our demise.
In this week’s reading, we see Jeremiah reporting on the perceived absence of God. Times had turned and a tyrant was knocking on the door. Independence would quickly change to suffering and subjugation. This was a reality that the people of God couldn’t quite grasp. It seemed to them that God had abandoned them.
It is difficult to know in today’s passage whether this is God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah or if it is the feeling of Jeremiah himself. As the two voices are often intertwined, it may make no noticeable difference for us. We see the lament. We can almost feel the tears falling from eyes moist with heartache. Jeremiah weeps for his people and so does God.
When David broke his arm, he suffered quite a bit of pain. He was comforted somewhat by the presence of his parents who loved him and sought to alleviate his difficulty. At the same time, as parents, we are stricken worse than if it had happened to us. Love for a child is like that.
When we suffer with our own ailments, we turn to passages like this to remember God’s love for us is akin to the love of a parent for a child - even when we may not perceive that love clearly. When we cannot find a physician to give us comfort, we resonate with the frustration in verse 22. Faith retains the belief that God is indeed on our side even when reality points to the contrary.
This Sunday, we’ll explore this theme in worship together. Join us in Edmond or Guthrie or online so that we may renew our faith together and stand up to the frustrations that are so common to the human life.
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