READ : Jeremiah 8:18–9:1
For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. (v. 21)
We like to picture prophets as men who thunder the word of God in judgment to the people. We also like to picture the people squirming as the truth of the prophet’s words strikes home, causing them to realize that the day of accounting is at hand. But this is only part of the picture. It is wonderfully strange that God’s prophets were men who had a great ability to sympathize with the people. They were able to proclaim “Thus says the Lord” because they also wept with broken hearts for the pain and sorrow that disobedience to God had produced. This brief passage shows how deeply Jeremiah shared the grief of the people he so often had to denounce.
In the light of Jeremiah and the other prophets, it is well to ask if we share the pain and sorrow of the world or if we attempt to withdraw from it. Does the church proclaim the Word from a sympathetic heart? Or have we forgotten how to be heart-broken, grief-stricken over the sins of a world to which we are called to be the prophetic voice? Jeremiah cried out in sympathy and grief. In this we could well follow his example. (originally published April 7, 1964)
Help me, O Lord, to have a sympathetic heart toward my fellow men. Please strengthen the church so that it can say, “Thus says the Lord.” Amen.