In the aftermath of Babylon’s siege on Jerusalem (587 bce), Jeremiah momentarily loses hope. We hear his devastation as he recounts the horrific destruction and loss of life. Perhaps even worse, though, the prophet says that when he cries out in prayer, God doesn’t hear his pleas.
But a tiny ray of hope breaks through the stone-cold silence. As Jeremiah reflects on his suffering, he remembers something he learned in better times: God’s steadfast love and mercies never cease. When we have eyes to see them, evidence of those tender mercies appear to us every morning. Slowly, the prophet turns from his litany of misery to praise God. “Great is your faithfulness,” he declares, marking a turning point in his spiritual experience.
We may find ourselves in a state of darkness without any light. Our distress is searingly real, yet we cannot find any comfort from scripture or prayer or from others. Why do we suffer so when God could make it right? Doubt begins to creep in. But as with Jeremiah, a miracle happens. As awful as things are for us, we discover new mercies. We are still alive. Each breath we take is evidence of God’s goodness to us. Our sorrow has meaning. It humbles us and teaches us to depend on God rather than on the things of the world. Even in our brokenheartedness we begin to find hope.
Every day brings its own trouble, but it also brings its mercies. We still are alive; we have not died. We may have been through hell, but we have not been destroyed by it. God allows grief, which serves a merciful purpose if we trust in God.
O God, as Jeremiah lost hope, at times we are tempted to do the same. Forgive us and restore our spirit in the light of your never-ending mercies. Amen.
Although we anticipate the celebration of Easter, this week’s readings remind us to slow down and walk through the suffering of Jesus. If we fail to understand why he has to die, then we fail to grasp fully the power of his resurrection. Monday’s passage in Isaiah anticipates the Messiah, the Anointed One, coming to bring justice to the nations. Tuesday’s Psalm laments that sometimes the righteous are met with scorn. The Hebrews passage for Wednesday declares that Christ knows of the suffering that awaits him, yet he endures it because of the joy to come. On Thursday, the reading in John shows us that even when facing death, Jesus continues to model selfless love. Friday brings pain and rejection, but Sunday is the greatest day in human history. He is risen indeed!
Read John 13:1-7, 31b-35. Consider someone who has disappointed, hurt, or betrayed you whom God might be calling you to love. How could a posture of service help you act in a loving way even if you cannot feel affection for this person?
Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12. How does this description of a suffering servant help you more fully understand Jesus’ suffering on the cross?
Read Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24. When has grief felt like mercy? When has noticing you are alive felt like a miracle?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24. Recall a time you forgot how to sing God’s praises despite the joy around you. How did God provide the song?
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