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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, September 23, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 8:18–9:1

My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?

O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! (NRSV)

Reflection
Lamentation is a soft word. You could apply it to your disappointment when the team you root for loses a game. “Oh, it’s so sad that the pitcher hung a curveball and gave up the game-winning home run.” Lamentation is a euphemism, and like all euphemisms it conceals something much less pleasant to look at.

Grief. You don’t grieve a ninth-inning loss. In fact, to say that would make a mockery of grief. Everyone who has grieved knows. The pain that goes to the core of your core, the feeling that the world is smaller, emptier, and will never be the same again . . . that’s not something to treat lightly.

Jeremiah is mourning here. “For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.” He can’t see any hope for things to be put right. “Is there no balm in Gilead?” His people are wrecked, and he is grieving for them. “O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!”

It’s a feeling that is not unfamiliar to many these days. It doesn’t take a microscope to see a wounded people. You look for some solace, some relief from the pain, some hope that things will get better. Better for all the people.

The thing about grief, though, is that there isn’t an instant cure. When the wounds are that deep, there is no magic wand to wave to make them all go away. If someone says, “I can fix it all,” they don’t respect the nature of grief. It’s something you have to go through to rebuild a sense of a world that can hold some good, some joy, some sense of wholeness.

It takes its own time. Quick cures are a lie. All we can do is go on in faith that time will do its restorative work.

Prayer
Lord, we know what it is to grieve. Grant us the faith and the patience to endure the time of grieving and the strength to rebuild from our losses. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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