May 19, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for Today 

Jeremiah 4:19-21 

“Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry. 20 Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment. 21 How long must I see the battle standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?”

“And while potential jumpers often wait for officers to arrive because they may want to be talked out of killing themselves, there are those who never give officers the chance. Detective Canale recalled a man who leapt from a lower stretch of the Verrazano and struck the rocks below. The man was still alive when the detective got to him, though many of his bones were broken, his internal organs ruptured. As the man’s shattered body was secured to a long board and he was administered oxygen, the man, in some of his final words, said he regretted jumping, the detective recalled. ‘I can’t get this right, either,’ the man said, according to Detective Canale. ‘I told him: “We’re going to get you to the hospital. We’re going to try to make it better.”’” – Ruderman, Wendy, “The Jumper Squad,” The New York Times, Oct 5, 2012

Growing up in New York City made me pretty numb to the brokenness that exists all around. From obvious brokenness, like the guy strung out in front of the methadone clinic, to the less than obvious, like the good-looking and well-dressed yet hopelessly insecure and looking-for-love fixtures of the late-night bar and night club scene—it’s everywhere. I admit that though I am a pastor—someone who’s “paid to care”—I oftentimes don’t. I can pretty easily tune out the pain around me and chalk it up to the unavoidable fate of a fallen world. But sometimes something comes along, like the Times article quoted above, that God uses to soften my New York state of heart. It made me think, What happened in that man’s life to bring him to that point? What kind of a beat down did life give him to make him feel like a failure for not even being able to kill himself “right”? It broke my heart.

Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, and here we see why. He is not an aloof bystander to Israel reaping the wages of her sin, but rather, a family member agonizing over the fate of a loved one: “Oh, the agony of my heart!” What if we could feel that way when we see our brothers and sisters stumbling in sin, or when we look at the brokenness in our neighborhood or city, or when we observe the societal ills sweeping our nation? Surely such is the heart of God that moved the Father to offer His own Son in our stead. May we also develop God’s heart as the motivation for our ministry.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to hurt with those who are hurting and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Open my eyes to the brokenness all around me, maybe to a brokenness that was closer than I thought—in a co-worker, a classmate, a friend. Take my eyes off of my own worries and enable me to bring life to others, trusting that You will meet all of my needs as I do so. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Nahum 1-2

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