Do you know anyone who is satisfied with the way things are? There seems to be something inside each of us that wants to reach beyond our self and touch something “more.”
We are each plagued by a kind of holy discontent.
In our own way, we are each crying out for mercy. We are each, deep in our souls, longing for an experience with God.
Surely God will hear our cries and respond to our longings. Even now, as we read, reflect, and pray, may we hold out hope that God will sneak up on us in the form of forgiveness, acceptance, peace, joy, and love.
The Lord proclaims: Sing joyfully for the people of Jacob; shout for the leading nation. Raise your voices with praise and call out: “The Lord has saved his people, the remaining few in Israel!” I’m going to bring them back from the north; I will gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the disabled, expectant mothers and those in labor; a great throng will return here. With tears of joy they will come; while they pray, I will bring them back. I will lead them by quiet streams and on smooth paths so they don’t stumble. I will be Israel’s father, Ephraim will be my oldest child.
No one likes to be left out. It’s a terrible feeling. Standing on the sidelines. Being laughed at or ignored. Wondering day in and day out if you matter, wondering where you belong.
For years the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, felt this way. They had no home. Like leaves on the wind, they were scattered all throughout the ancient Near East. At first, they were hopeful they would be able to return to the Promised Land and re-establish their way of life. But then another year passed, and another year. Before long the Israelites began to lose hope. Many wondered if God would ever make a way, if God would ever restore them to their land.
In the midst of all this despair Jeremiah encourages the people to be joyful, because God, in God’s own timing, “will gather them from the ends of the earth.”
Though it sometimes feels like no one cares, we all belong to God. God doesn’t look past us or pass over us. God hears us, and God sees us. In God we have a home.
God, sometimes I have a lot of questions about your timing. You just seem to take forever. I mean, do you really care? Honestly, it’s not always easy, but I trust you, knowing you would never give up on me, and that you have my best interests in mind. Amen.
Mercy is truly a grace-filled gift, one that is offered to all of us in and through Christ.
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”
from Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner (1973)