Father, help me to be a speaker of truth. May Your Word guide me and Your Spirit fill me with courage.
Read: Jeremiah 8:18-9:9
 You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me.  Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?” “Why have they aroused my anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?”  “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.  Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?  Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.  Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.  “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the LORD.  “Beware of your friends; do not trust anyone in your clan. For every one of them is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.  Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.  You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the LORD.  Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?  Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the LORD. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?”
Reflect: Who do you identify with in the passage?
In this passage different individuals and groups speak in turn. First Jeremiah quotes the people (18,19a), then God (19b), then the people (20), then Jeremiah (8:21–9:2), then God again (3-9), including a message to the prophet personally (4-6).
This intensely personal account of Jeremiah’s feelings helps us to appreciate how much his identification with his people cost him. “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed,” he says (21). He longs that there might be healing for their wounds (22). (The area of Gilead was known for its spices and medicinal herbs.) But while he cries bucket loads as he foresees his people’s coming suffering (9:1), he is also appalled and disgusted by them (2). Talk about mixed emotions!
How many of us are willing to pay the price of ministering to those who are rejecting God? The Lord warns his servant that it will not be easy. Even his friends will lie and deceive him (4). When the people refuse to acknowledge their God (3,6), telling lies becomes an ordinary and expected part of life (8).
Pray for spiritual discernment and the ability to combine compassion for the people with faithfulness to God.Father, like the prophet, may my heart break with what breaks Your heart.
Father, like the prophet, may my heart break with what breaks Your heart.