Tag Archives: Babylonian exile

July with Jeremiah: Chapters 42-52


Let us pray…

God who dwells within,

God who is with us in good times and in bad,

We turn our hearts again to you and we proclaim:

nothing can come between us

and your love for us,

even if we are troubled or worried or persecuted,

or lacking food or clothes,

or being threatened or even attacked.

We can grow through difficult times

because of this power of your love at work in our lives.

We lean upon you and offer you thanks and praise. AMEN

If you are looking for a happy ending in Jeremiah, you are not going to find one. The people do not listen to Jeremiah’s words from God, and go the walls of Jerusalem fall into the hands of the Babylonian Empire.  The only sign of hope is the Oracles against the Nations which spells out the demise of Babylon, implying the release from exile and a restoration of Jerusalem.  After the oracle is read by Seraiah, Jeremiah instructs him to tie a stone to the scroll and throw it into the Euphrates as a sign, “Thus shall Babylon sink.  Never shall she rise, because of the evil I am bringing upon her,” (51:63-64).

Don’t we sometimes feel this same despair, that there will never be an end to it and God will never come to our aid?  Jeremiah provides such imagery for this:  “shattered Moab like a pot that no one wants” (48:38), “flee, retreat, hide in deep holes” (49:8), “they toss like the sea which cannot rest” (49:23) and “she shall be empty, and become a total desert” (50:13).  The only thing to hold on to in times like that is hope.  What is hope?

From Fr. Pat Butler’s talk, “Though He Slay Me, I will hope in Him”:

According to Thomas Aquinas, hope is a special desire that has a special object.  That object must be clearly good, apparent, in the future, difficult to get YET possible.  We must have faith that it is possible.  Faith is necessary for hope.  Both faith and hope must be in love (which you ALREADY HAVE by the grace of God).  God is love.  That’s all God can do.  We choose hopelessness when we cannot see a better outcome.

Despite the harsh language in Jeremiah, God wants us to choose hope!  Jeremiah doesn’t know Jesus yet, but we do.  Jesus promises us hope.  Jesus gives us the happy ending.

From Harry Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People:

Let me suggest that the bad things that happen to us in our lives do not have a meaning when they happen to us.  They do not happen for any good reason, which would cause us to accept them willingly.  But we can give them a meaning.  We can redeem these tragedies from senselessness by imposing meaning on them.  The question we should be asking is not, “Why did this happen to me?  What did I do to deserve this?”  That is really an unanswerable, pointless question.  A better question would be, “Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?”

Closing Prayer:

When you come to the place

where the shadows are,

And the light ahead is withdrawn:

Put your hand in God’s and keep it there

Till he carries you over and on.

You may have to tarry a while in the dark

Till God is ready to lead

But while you are waiting just pray and pray

To Him your great need.

Then hold on to God’s hand with a

solid grip,

Let nothing deter your stand:

Keep waiting and waiting and holding on

Till the shadows pass from the land.  AMEN