The Grief of a Prophet
There are many things which can cause us grief.
The loss of someone we care about;
the loss of a job;
a broken relationship.
Even the loss of property or possessions can cause grief.
Are those thing legitimate?
A believer and follower of Christ may be grieved by things we would not normally think about.
Our passage this evening expresses the grief Jeremiah felt for his people.
Remember the people he was assigned to minister to were his friends, neighbors and relatives.
For the most part they rejected his message.
Do we grieve for those who reject the truth of God’s word?
Do we grieve for them or do we get mad at them?
Do we look at them with concern and empathy, or do we see them with disdain and hatred?
I will admit there are times after talking to someone over and over again I get frustrated and even angry.
Go ahead, you’ll get yours.
However that is not the example Jeremiah sets for us, nor is it the example Christ set for us.
The severity of his grief
The severity of his grief
18 My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.
It is incurable
The language in verse 18 indicates that Jeremiah is unable to have peace and relax because of the condition of his people.
It goes beyond the point of bothering him. It rises to a level that nothing will make the pain of their condition and suffering go away
The language implies that his joy has been replaced by a disease there is no cure for
Note that Jeremiah’s grief is not driven by the nature of the sins of the people. Rather his grief is driven by the condition they find themselves in.
I think very often we react to more to sins than conditions.
In fact we are willing and sometimes eager to judge sin, but are often unwilling to grieve the condition of the person committing those sins
How often have we had the attitude “oh well they got what they deserved”. It is an attitude that says we are more concerned about a person’s behavior than their condition.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with everything you are and have.
If you condition is such that you are able to do that, behavior will not be an issue
It is a relationship with God through Christ that enables that condition
It weighs heavy on him
The grief of the prophet is something that consumes him
It is over him, it is in front of him, it is something he carries everywhere.
Notice that the condition of the people of Judah (particularly those in his immediate vicinity) is something that has come down on him and replaced that sense of comfort and peace
The picture is one of urgency and desperation
Is Jeremiah saying oh well at least I’m okay
He is saying the condition of others is his problem and he must do something to try and change it.
It is real
Jeremiah says his heart is sick.
This statement indicates that carrying around this constant sense of grief for the condition of his people has drained him emotionally and maybe even physically
That’s how we know we really care
As a parent when you see your child suffering for one reason or another it makes your heart sick
I remember a time when Nicole had done something wrong, and I honestly don’t even remember what it was.
But I told her she had to write that she would never do it again 1000 times.
She could not go anywhere, talk on the phone, watch TV, or listen to music until it was done.
I remember the feeling I had watching her struggle though that.
My heart was sick for her.
Not because of what she had done, but because of the condition she was not in.
I also remember how great I felt when it was finally done.
Not because the punishment was completed, or even the fact I was convinced she would never repeat the behavior.
I felt great because she was no longer in that condition.
When Jesus stood atop Mount Olivet and wept as He looked at the city of Jerusalem, notice what His focus was
If they had only known and received the things that make for peace with God
Those things are hidden from their eyes
Jesus weeps over the condition of the people of Jerusalem.
That condition causes Him grief and results in negative consequences for them.
His desire for them, as it is for us today, is that their condition be one of peace with God.
Don’t grieve for the lost because that’s what you know you’re supposed to do.
Don’t grieve those who have fallen away because you feel obligated to do so.
Grieve over the condition they are in.
Have empathy for what you know they are going through.
Have a genuine desire for them to experience a relationship with God through Christ.
Grieve for their condition, not their behavior.
The nature of his grief
The nature of his grief
19 Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people from the length and breadth of the land: “Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” “Why have they provoked me to anger with their carved images and with their foreign idols?” 20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” 21 For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?
Creates a sense of helplessness
The people of Judah cry out
To cry in this case means to cry for help when in a desperate situation.
Certainly the people of Judah were experiencing great physical helplessness
They believed that because of who they were God would always be there to protect and provide for them
Where has He gone they ask?
I would submit to you that of greater importance to Jeremiah was the spiritual desperation both he and the people of Judah felt.
I can tell you from personal experience that a situation like they experienced also creates a sense of spiritual helplessness
The people of Judah had strayed and gone elsewhere in search of satisfaction, protection, and provision.
We have all heard the phrase “the truth hurts”. Sometimes it does.
For someone who knows the truth of God’s word and will for them and rejects or ignores it,
they will a spiritual battle that very often will lead them away from God.
This is an attempt to rid themselves of the pain and desperation caused by their decisions.
They will get to a place where nothing else works and they will cry out.
The problem with the people of Judah was that they were in a condition where
they believed because they were in the lineage of Abraham, God would always be there for them
regardless of the decisions they made.
We see the same thing today.
People cry out to God when they are in a desperate situation.
I knew someone who felt helpless in their situation and decided that maybe God would be the answer
They started coming to church, Sunday school, and reading their bible.
The only problem was they could not recognize or acknowledge the condition of their heart.
Just as the people of Jerusalem thought they would find God in their lineage and traditions,
this person thought they would find Him in a church building and a book.
He is in those places, but only brings peace when the heart is His.
Creates a sense hopelessness
The harvest has past, the summer has ended
This is a cry of hopelessness.
The way The Message Bible paraphrases this verse is fitting
“The crops are in, the summer is over, but for us nothing has changed”
Hopelessness brings with it absolute and total despair without any reasonable expectation or possibility of good
When we get to that place where we have no spiritual hope,
we have likely gone away from or forgotten God and His truth.
It is not that all faith is lost.
The bible repeatedly discusses faith and hope as two different things that are closely tied
H (ESV) 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith is a reflection of what our hope or confident expectations are.
I have faith that Christ will save me because of the confident expectation I have of His finished work and the promise of His return.
I do not have faith is God when it comes to my money because I have no confidence He will provide for me
I believe that Jeremiah actually began to believe all was lost and there was no hope for his people.
Very often we place our hope in politicians,
our work or profession,
and so on
This is what the people of Judah had done.
In doing so it drew them away from God and toward carved images, and foreign idols.
When the harvest had past and the summer ended, they were left without hope
We should grieve over the condition of those who do not know God through Christ, or have fallen away from Him.
Our goal should be to do what we can to help them come into a relationship with Him and grow in that relationship.
For us that desire should be heartfelt,
weigh heavily on us,
and result in us having a sense of urgency in how we respond.
We should also recognize that a person in that condition has no hope and probably feels a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
We need to remember the hope we have in Him and both convey and demonstrate that to the world.
Why does that hopeless and helpless condition exist?
Because of the condition of the relationship with God.
That condition should grieve us.