Jeremiah 30:1-11a (NRSV)
God will save the people
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors and they shall take possession of it.
These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:
Thus says the Lord:
We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.
Ask now, and see,
can a man bear a child?
Why then do I see every man
with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor?
Why has every face turned pale?
Alas! that day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be rescued from it.
On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will break the yoke from off his neck, and I will burst his bonds, and strangers shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
But as for you, have no fear, my servant Jacob, says the Lord,
and do not be dismayed, O Israel;
for I am going to save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and no one shall make him afraid.
For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you;
I will make an end of all the nations
among which I scattered you,
but of you I will not make an end.
There is an awful lot in today’s scripture, but the over-riding theme is that God is able to rescue, save, and grant peace in the midst of very terrible situations.
I believe that someone needs to know today that God is on your side. God made us and knows us. God is always wanting the best for us and working for our good.
Although bad things do happen—even to good people—God is still good and God is still in control.
Now, let me tell you the truth. I have had a few days where the pain, oppression, depression and/or betrayal in my life have been so great that I wanted to cuss God and die. I pushed God away from me, refusing to pray, read scripture, or even take Holy Communion.
I told God that I no longer believed in God’s existence. I erroneously thought that if God was real, God would not allow me to be in so much pain.
Now, there are some who may not appreciate my honesty. There are others who believe that because I am a clergywoman, I don’t know about real problems, but nothing could be further from the truth. All of us humans share a common experience—joy and pain, laughter and tears, faith and doubt.
I know--in the core of my being--that all human beings have crises of faith. All of Adam and Eve’s offspring have “dark nights of the soul” where we wonder if God truly really cares about us.
The truth is, for reasons we do not know, sometimes God allows things that we consider "bad" to happen to us. We know that God is all powerful. We know that God is in total control of everything that occurs in the universe. We know that God could keep all bad things from happening. But, God does not.
We don’t know why this is true. There are simply some mysteries in life that are too big for us to fathom.
I used to believe that if I just thought hard enough, I could make sense of anything. If I studied the right book or had the right experiences, I would be able to ascertain the ways of God and of the universe.
Well, let me tell you, I was wrong my friends. There are just some things that are mysterious. In my tradition we say, “I’ll understand it better by-and-by.”
While we’re waiting for that day when all of our life experiences will make sense, let us take courage from the fact that God knows and understands the twin realities of pain and grief.
After all, God stood by as God's own beloved son was captured as a common criminal, beaten and tortured all night long, affixed to a wood cross with metal spikes, and taunted until he died in excruciating pain.
God does understand our pain and is intimately acquainted with our sorrows. If even Jesus, the Son of God, endured hardship, pain, and betrayal in his earthly body, then it is clear to me that we will too!
Earlier, I told you about a time I tried to shove God out of my life. I was angry at God and wanted to be done with our relationship.
Do you know what happened? God would not leave me. God would not forsake me. God would not abandon me.
Even when I asked God to leave, God would not do it. Even when I abused God with my words and actions, God would not give up on me. That is the nature of God's Amazing Grace!
Aren't you glad that God’s love is unconditional and that God is strong enough and compassionate enough to be with us in every situation?
Having seen God’s never-give-up-never-walk-away-always-abounding love for me, I know that we can count on God.
There are many things that are mysterious, but here’s one thing that I do know--Trouble don’t last always.
God loves us so much that God gave Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sins and to gift us with eternal life.
No matter what you’re going through, please know this. God loves you and God cares. God will not abandon you, no matter how hard the trial and no matter how angry you become.
God is determined to resurrect and redeem even the most hopeless of situations. There are two scriptures that comfort me in the time of trouble.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Romans 8:28a says, "We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him."
When I recite these scriptures, I am always reminded that God's ultimate plan is to love, prosper, and bless me! I may not always understand how God is going to accomplish my good, but I rest in the blessed assurance that God can and God will.
Remember, you are God’s beloved and nothing--and no one--can separate you from the love of God which has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
Have you been trying to push God away?
Loving God, I confess that there are days that I have been so angry and hurt because of the painful circumstances of my life that I have tried to push you away. I notice now, that you have never left me, nor forsaken me. Your love for me is amazing! I can hardly believe that you care for me so much; yet, the proof is in the cross! Thank you for Jesus, forgiveness of sin, and resurrection life. Please forgive me of my sin and fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I will be empowered to do Your Will on Earth, until you come from Heaven. I love you God and it is well with my soul! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you have additional questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, "Come to Jesus"
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