12 January Devotion
Readings: Jeremiah 30: 1-17
The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity…
Jer. 30:3 (NIV-UK).
“When will all this be over?” This is a question which we asked ourselves numerous times in 2020. Whether because of COVID-19 or for other reasons, we might still be asking the same question. Sometimes, life is just too tough to bear. Perhaps a Time Machine would come in handy, where one could travel forward in history and land in a time when everything is okay; or go into a state of human hibernation, like one sees in Sci-fi movies, and ask to awaken when circumstances are better. We would take anything that would enable us to skip the suffering and waiting (and, of course, the suffering of waiting).
Today, the Lord might be calling us to experience another way to endure; a way which does not give in to fantasies of immediate triumph (the time machine) nor to the defeatedness of escapism (human hibernation). “The days are coming, declares the Lord…”: This promise assures us of God’s providence; his total control over circumstances. Whatever the situation we find ourselves in, it will not last forever; God will see us through; definitely, there is an end to it.
However, God’s providence and his promise that he will put an end to our suffering (and waiting) does not simply mean that God will meet us at the end of the tunnel with a candle in his hand. While promises are by nature future bound, God’s promise involves the present as well as the future. God promises that he is with us in the present suffering. The bleakness of the present does not mean that God is absent. God’s presence is not confined to the future happy endings. His promise is that he is with us in our suffering and waiting.
The Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ is here to comfort us and witness to our spirits that we are the Father’s beloved sons and daughters. Suffering and waiting are painful, however, the Father promises: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Therefore, let us suffer and wait not as those abandoned but as those embraced.
Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer 2019, “For the Discouraged and Downcast”:
O God, almighty and merciful, you heal the broken-hearted, and turn the sadness of the sorrowful to joy, Let your fatherly goodness be upon all whom you have made. Remember in pity all those who are this day destitute, homeless, elderly, infirm, or forgotten. Bless the multitude of your poor. Lift up those who are cast down. Mightily befriend innocent sufferers, and sanctify to them the endurance of their wrongs. Cheer with hope all who are discouraged and downcast, and by your heavenly grace preserve from falling those whose poverty tempts them to sin. Though they be troubled on every side, suffer them not to be distressed; though they are perplexed, save them from despair. Grant this, O Lord, for the love of him who for our sakes became poor, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.