“I have become a laughingstock to all my people, their mocking song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. My soul has been rejected from peace; and I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD’.” (3:18)
We love to flash a light onto 3:22-23 and drown out the sorrow found in these surrounding verses, but this sorrow is real. Jeremiah has forgotten happiness! This is not what being a servant of the LORD is supposed to be like! This is a true dark night of the soul. Rightly so, as we uncover more details surrounding the situation.
“The iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom.” (4:6)
“The hands of the compassionate woman boiled their own children; they became food for them because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (4:10)
Over and over, the LORD cries out that Israel and Judah surpassed the evil of the Canaanites they originally displaced. He has mercy, but they haven’t done a shred of a thing to reach for it. Finally, at the end they make a plea, which closes out the book, leaving us to wonder how the LORD responded.
“Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old, unless You have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us.” (5:21-22)
That sad unless implies–to me–a distant, I will understand if you decide to forsake us.
Most thankfully, and gloriously, the LORD does not reject forever. In fact, He continues to draw His people to Himself, opening His arms to also sweep in people from other nations. I, by nature, like to brush past pain in order to find a silver lining or any semblance of relief. I’ve tried to allow myself the opportunity to lament with Jeremiah about the brokenness in the world. I feel it goes hand in hand with a subsequent humility of, we get it if you don’t restore us. The LORD owes us nothing.
What is your posture before the LORD when things get tough? How readily do you take responsibility for messes you’re in? Do you call His Goodness into question whenever the going gets rough? Why or why not?