I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. (Jeremiah 8:21 NLT)
I would not have wanted to be Jeremiah for many different reasons.
He had a lousy message and he knew it. Every time he opened his mouth it was bad news. People knew and labelled him by his message. Jeremiah was the prototypical “bad news bear”. I am sure that he longed for something good to preach but nothing like that came.
He was conflicted with his message, not wanting to preach it but he had no choice. He speaks of the Word of God as a burning fire that he could not contain.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9 NIV)
He watched the tragedy of a people paying a terrible price for straying from the ways of God. Their country was going down the tubes needlessly. Many of us in North America can identify with this sinking feeling. There is this niggling fear that we are zealously destroying our souls and our country in suit.
And he “felt” it all deeply.
Not just his own issues but the hurt of his people. If we stop for a minute, we can feel it as well. I feel today, the hurt of a family in Saratoga Springs, whose 22 year old son took his own life. I knew Tom and I wonder about the dark hours in the days and weeks that drove him to the edge. I feel the hurt of a mother and father who will ask themselves how they failed him and like the rest of us, will find too many answers.
Feeling the hurt around us is a common calling and a prerequisite if we want to bring hope and healing of any sort. Sometimes there is little to nothing to offer and we like Jeremiah have nothing but to walk with the wounded until we all are ultimately healed.