Scripture: Jeremiah 33:1–3 & 10–16
What is there to say? Lately, I have been at a loss for words as I hear about and reflect
on the pain around the world, in our community, and in our own lives. Sometimes there aren’t words. Sometimes there is just silence. Sometimes there are only tears to
express what words cannot.
I wonder about Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, whose words about the kingdom’s
destruction got him thrown in jail. How many tears did Jeremiah cry? How did he feel as he wept? Did crying feel frivolous or did he see crying as holy work? Could Jeremiah
imagine the Lord collecting each of his tears as the psalmist describes, or did he feel all alone? I wonder how long did Jeremiah sit in silence in jail before God spoke a word of hope to him?
Somewhere in the midst of war, in the silence of jail, in the weeping, the Lord spoke a
word of hope to Jeremiah.
Thus says the Lord,
“What is now a wasteland…desolate…a place where it seems no humans or animals can live…a place with no words…the Lord says voices will be in this place again. And not just any voices, the voices of a wedding party…voices of joy and gladness, voices of the groom and bride and attendants singing and giving thanks to the Lord. What now is empty, where there are no people to even try and find words to describe life, God says will be filled with voices and singing, proclaiming God’s goodness and steadfast love. What seems like a waste, God says God will restore.”
I wonder if this vision of restoration, of singing and joy in the midst of such pain felt
foolish to Jeremiah. I wonder if it made him cry. Yet somewhere in the midst of war, in
the silence of jail, in the weeping, the Lord continued to speak a word of hope to
Thus says the Lord,
“What now is a wasteland…a place without living things…where no humans or animals are able to live right now…this place that feels hopeless and beyond help. The Lord declares that pastures will grow again, sheep will be able to rest, as shepherds carefully watch over them.”
I wonder if this vision of peaceful sheep in a pasture felt naive in a city under siege. I
wonder if it made Jeremiah cry. Yet somewhere in the midst of war, in the silence of
jail, in the weeping, the Lord continued to speak a word of hope to Jeremiah.
Now Jeremiah had been clear that it was leaders acting unjustly, straying from God’s
desires, that would cause this wasteland…
But thus says the Lord—
“The causes of the wasteland will be no more. A new leader will come and this leader will be righteous and just and will save the people and lead them to safety once more. And not just the leader, but the town itself will be known by a new name…The Lord is our righteousness.”
I wonder if this vision of a good leader felt impossible. Few leaders had been decent, let alone righteous and just. Could there be such a leader that would save God’s people? That would lead them to safety and teach them to act righteously for the Lord? Could such a leader exist? I wonder if the thought of it made Jeremiah cry. Yet somewhere in the midst of war, in the silence of jail, in the weeping, the Lord continued to speak a word of hope to Jeremiah.
And today, in the midst of violence and war, when it often feels like God has gone silent, where there is more sorrow than tears can express, the Lord does continue to speak a word of hope to us. Advent is a time for deep longing, for reflection on how we need God in this world, and for admitting that God oftentimes feels silent. But God promises that when we call on the Lord, the Lord will answer. In the midst of violence, silence, and weeping, the Lord does continue to speak a word of hope to us. I think we have forgotten how to listen.
● For hope comes in whispers and tears.
● Hope is looking out the window each evening on summer days, waiting for the
fireflies to appear.
● Hope comes in holding silence for all of the feelings, knowing that God feels
● Hope is waiting for tea to steep or making soup on a cold day.
● Hope is not the absence of grief but takes its deepest roots in times of sorrow.
● Hope is getting out of bed, putting one foot in front of the other, and seeing every
morning as a new day.
● Hope is looking into darkness until light comes.
● Hope is planting bulbs in the fall and trees in the spring.
● Hope is here.
For some this Advent will be filled with tears; this Advent there will probably be a time
with no words. But God has hope to speak and God will sit with us in our tears, lovingly
collecting each one, until we are ready to hear God’s word of hope. Because in the
midst of violence, silence, and weeping…God continues to speak a word of hope to us.
This week, God has spoken words of hope to me through wise Sanctuary Songs by
Porter’s Gate, through powerful blessings by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie, and
through resurrection reminders in Instagram posts by KJ Ramsey. How is God speaking a word of hope to you right now? Are you listening? Who are you listening to and reading and praying with that is resonating within your longings, that is planting seeds of hope? This Advent, as we long for a world filled with righteousness where everyone knows and believes that God is indeed with us, may we listen for whispers of hope.