I have continued reading through the book of Jeremiah in a couple of different translations, accompanied by Eugene Peterson’s classic book about his favorite prophet, Run With the Horses. Peterson reminds his readers that Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. A read of Jerimiah helps us to see why the epithet.
As described in an earlier blog post (see Persistence), the prophet Jeremiah persistently delivered God’s message to his people which was persistently rejected and ignored (often with harsh and sometimes physical contempt) leading Jeremiah to lament/vent:
3 “For twenty-three years*… I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. 4 You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, 5 saying, ‘Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever. (Jeremiah 25:3-5, ESV)
No wonder he wept.
A couple of days ago, May 24, 2022, I was reading Jeremiah 40-43. Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians who removed the rich and influential citizens leaving behind the poor and destitute to serve as their labor force. Johanan became the default leader of this ragtag group. Johanan and the people approached Jeremiah, asking him to “Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do” (Jeremiah 42:3) sealing the request with a vow of obedience…
5“May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. 6 Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 41:5-6)
Long story short, they didn’t like the response from God, ignored it, and did exactly what God told them not to do. As I reflected on this story in the context of the entire book of Jeremiah, I wrote in my journal (for the second day in a row)…
That same day, May 24, 2022, I watched in horror as the news unfolded of the murder of students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. My mind was immediately flooded with the many other school shootings** in the United States (mostly over the past 25 years) – Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, Virginia Tech, Stoneman Douglas High School, etc., etc., etc. As I wept and reflected on the events of the day, I once again wrote in my journal…
Same old, same old!!
…followed by “When is enough enough?” I’m certainly not the only one asking the question, “When is enough enough?” On May 25, Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors in a pregame press conference, refused to talk about the all-important NBA playoff game, instead said…
“When are we going to do something? I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there,” said Kerr, who was visibly frustrated. “I’m so tired of the excuse, I’m so tired of the moments of silence. Enough!”
I have many more questions!
Chap Clark, in his ground-breaking research, concluded that we have systemically abandoned our young people in favor of adult agendas (Hurt, 2004; When Kids Hurt, 2009). It seems he might be right. Why can’t adults be willing to forgo some of their pet agendas in favor of our young people? Why should my grandchildren be traumatized by lock-down active shooter drills in school? (I have been in high school buildings during such drills – I can only imagine what would go through the mind of an elementary student.)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian & anti-Nazi activist, once said, “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” I wonder what Bonhoeffer might say to us today?
A couple thousand years ago, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). I wonder what Jesus might say to us today?
And I wonder when we will get tired of the same old, same old and say Enough!?
* Interestingly, it’s been 23 years since the Columbine shooting. ** Historically, the number of school shootings in the United States stands at 288. Mexico has the second-most school shootings in the world – eight!
Clark, C. (2004). Hurt: Inside the world of today’s teenagers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Clark, C., & Rabey, S. (2009). When kids hurt: Help for adults navigating the adolescent maze. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books