Jeremiah 31:10-14, Hope
By Mark Wells
The Message version of this passage starts, “Hear this, nations! GOD’s Message!” I am struck by how rarely I heed those words. I am out of practice listening to these Biblical messages of hope. I’m trying to sit and listen to God’s Message. Will you join me?
Recently I turned off NPR news. I used to listen to the radio every morning while making breakfast. At some point the stories about suicide bombings, mass shootings, refugees, and politics saturated me. I felt powerless over these global issues. Frankly, I have enough problems of my own.
In this context I sat down to read this passage. I read it many times over several days. It took a long time for the message of hope to break through to me. I was reading the NRSV version, which is the translation we read on Sunday morning. In verse 13, it says, “I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” This message of hope was too big and too fantastic for my bad-news saturated brain to accept. Reading The Message helped.
In verse 13, The Message says, “I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.” Weeping and laughter I understand. I have felt the calm that follows weeping. I have laughed a lot. I have been to support groups with both. Lavish comfort I can also imagine. And I love the image of joy invading grief. Grief can feel so big, so overwhelming, and so never-ending, that the idea it would be completely converted to joy seems like false hope. But, I have experienced a spark of joy inside grief and those sparks do provide hope.
The Message ends with these words from God, “I’ll make sure that their priests get three square meals a day and that my people have more than enough.” Enough doesn’t seem like too much to hope for. Then of course I realized I already have more than enough.
During this expectant advent season, I invite you to listen to God’s Message. Like my radio, turn down the messages that isolate you from God’s Message. Diligently look for hope that God is providing. Look for invading joy. Look for laughter. Look for gladness. Even look for “grain and wine and oil.” Like me, you might not see it right away. Keep looking. Keep listening for God’s Message.