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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, August 30, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Jeremiah 15:15–21

O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. Therefore thus says the Lord: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless. (NRSV)

In these verses Jeremiah calls God “a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.” Jeremiah is angry, or at least disappointed in God, because Jeremiah continues to feel pain from an incurable wound. Why isn’t God stopping this! These verses, like so many other ones in the Bible, show us a glimpse of the human struggle with other humans as well as our dance with God. There are people acting with wickedness and ruthlessness; the Bible acknowledges that (verse 21). But sometimes we, the protagonists, the readers, the Jeremiahs, we turn away from God, too.

We know that Jeremiah has turned away from God, because God tells him that he can still turn back to God and God will take him back. As spiritual people, we are called to confront wickedness and ruthlessness when we see it; we are called to speak truth to misused power. Jeremiah has done that. Yet solutions to social or personal problems do not come without pain. The human struggle is real. No one is pure and without missing the mark sometimes—even a prophet of God.

Through all of our confusing existence we are called to perpetual self-examination. We can ask ourselves, even in the midst of social upheaval, “Where have I gone astray? How have I forgotten God? Where has my trust gone? How is fear or pride driving my actions?” If, like Jeremiah, we can continue to talk to God, even be angry with God and call God a deceitful brook, we will find that God will answer us. God has not abandoned us. God is with us even in this moment.

God of grace, I offer my all to you, even my anger, fear, and confusion. Be the Living Water for me, and do not fail me! Let your words become for me a joy and the delight of my heart. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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