Saturday 28 December 2013

Bible Book:

“Your children shall come back to their own country” (v 17)

Jeremiah 31:15-17 Saturday 28 December 2013


The voice heard in Ramah is an ancient and pitiful sound.Weeping for her children, Rachel is the voice of countless parentsthroughout the ages. Her refusal to be comforted is the tragicreality, they are no more. We need, hard though it is, to pause inlamentation. Lamentation is an old word, seldom used, not sadlybecause it is needed no more, but because we dare not pause as longas we should at the sorrow that is humanity's lot. We weep withJeremiah for the children who are no more. They are no more becausethey have died through hunger, injustice and neglect. They are nomore because their childhood ended in the bone-weary ache of longlabour in sweat shops around the world. They are no more becauseadults took their innocence in abuse of body, mind and spirit. Weweep because they are no more, our lamentation echoing down thecenturies in a dull, repetitive moaning of despair.

But the prophet speaks into Ramah, and challenges Rachel'srefusal to be comforted. The impossible promise is made to a motherdevastated by the loss of her children: "Your children shall comeback to their own country" (v. 17). How are we to understand thisin our lamentation for the children "who are no more" (v. 15)? CanGod raise the dead? Can God restore justice and childhood to theexploited and bone-weary child labourer? Can God restore innocenceto the cruelly abused bodies, minds and spirits of childrenthroughout the ages?

But this is what the prophet's claims, and bids us put oursorrow away, not because what is and was and sadly will be nolonger matters, but because it matters so much that all will be putright, and we are called to be part of that future now.

To Ponder

  • To what extent do you need to pause and lament sometimes andnot hurry away from the sadness of the world?
  • What difference do the words, "your children shall come back totheir own country" make to you now?
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