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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, January 9, 2021  

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)

Reflection
“I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.”

Did anyone else get choked up reading today’s Bible passage, or was that just me? I don’t know about everyone else, but there has been a lot of weeping (well, maybe the term meltdown would be more accurate) in our household since the spring of 2020 when the pandemic began. All that we know was suddenly ripped away from us—our friends, our extended family, our usual church activities, work, and school. We spiraled down tunnels of sadness every time we would read the paper or turn on the news, and every time a birthday or other celebration passed by. We have endured some very dark months being held captive by this global pandemic, with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.

Things have slowly begun to change, however. Just a couple of weeks ago, we witnessed the light of Christ’s birth through our beautiful online Christmas Eve services. COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to be distributed throughout our country. Mask wearing appears to be up when I am out on my daily walks. All of these things show us that there is hope and that light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to appear.

We all have endured quite a bit of darkness and sadness over these last several months, but behind all of that, God remains with us with unfailing grace and love. We still will have plenty of emotions to work through as we head towards the spring and find out what our new normal will be. Yet we do so know that God will be walking with us through it all, giving us hope and gladness for our sorrow.

Prayer
Loving God, I thank you for your unfailing love and grace that you provide, even during dark times. I thank you for the hope that you send us. Help me to always see your light at the end of the tunnel. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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