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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, January 7, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 31:7–14                           

For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord. (NRSV)

Life certainly is complicated and complex. Seasons of life prove daunting, difficult, and disheartening. At times, our daily existence can seem more of a wasteland than the promised land. This is true for God’s people throughout time, including for the community of ancient Israel as conveyed in the book of Jeremiah.

While desolate situations arise, we may find that in the bleak wilderness all distractions depart, allowing God to bring us to a position of grace that refreshes our soul.

Our loving God desires to lead us to streams of energy-imparting water. God formed us, loves us, and desires that we understand that that simple grace can deliver all we need. Our Holy Parent, who draws us near, liberates us, delivers us from bondage, and showers us with goodness and comfort, wants the very best for us. In despairing times, God restores our soul with free-flowing grace. While feeling empty or unfilled, you may be in place where you can experience a divine renovation.

Jeremiah relates how the people of Israel failed God, denying the Holy authority into their lives. As he conveys it, God brings them to a place of restoration that demonstrates the Lord’s mighty power. Jeremiah testifies that God will deliver them from every stronghold, “for the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong.”

Celebrate the reality that God is able to bring us back from every situation that confines us. It matters not how complicated or complex your situation is because nothing is impossible for the Almighty.

Gracious God, give us the utmost grace to trust, to submit and surrender all that holds us captive, so we may receive with genuine gratitude the fullness of your joy. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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