Not Healing, but Terror
Jeremiah 14:19The prophet Jeremiah announced God’s coming judgment to the Israelites for their consistent rejection of God and his ways. Jeremiah knew all too well that the people deserved what was coming their way, and that God had been more than patient with them. Nevertheless, at times, he cried out to God, praying on behalf of his people.
We find an example of such a representative prayer in Jeremiah 14:19: “LORD, have you completely rejected Judah? Do you really hate Jerusalem? Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing? We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.”
Though our context differs from that of Jeremiah, there are times when we can echo his words. Perhaps we find our family falling apart in spite of our best efforts to hold it together. Perhaps we are fighting cancer, and even the most powerful chemotherapy seems not to be working. Or perhaps we live in one of many places in the world that are wracked with violence and oppression. In these and so many other situations, we too cry out: “We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.”
The bold prayers of Jeremiah, like the Psalms, encourage us to be fully honest with God. We don’t have to hide our true feelings behind a mask of religiosity. And we don’t have to pretend that our doubts aren’t real. Rather, we can call out openly to God, knowing that as we approach his throne, it will be for us a throne of grace, a source of mercy and help when we need it (Heb. 4:16).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever prayed for peace, but no peace came, for healing, but found only terror? What did you do in this situation? What helps you to keep on praying even when it seems as if God won’t answer?PRAYER: Dear Lord, how thankful I am for the example of Jeremiah. Though he “knew the right answers,” he still cried out to you, baring his soul and sharing with you his grief and doubts. How glad I am that the Scripture is full of such honest prayers. They give me confidence to come before you just as I am, holding nothing back.
Today, I am not in such a desperate place, though I have been there before. I want to pray for those who are crying out for peace and find no peace, for healing and find only terror. I pray for a friend who has been unemployed now for over a year, and whose family is struggling. I pray for parents who have lost their children in the last year, and whose hearts ache every single day. I pray for those who are hungry today, but have no hope of food, for those who are in harm’s way, for those who have lost all hope. Be merciful to these people, Lord. Help them to cry out to you. Hear their cries. Let them know that you are with them.
All praise be to you, O God, because you invite us to approach your throne with boldness. Amen.