Bringing the Text to Life

Jeremiah's Honest Optimism Jeremiah 8:18–9:1

Jeremiah's Honest Optimism

A message of hope needs to be grounded in the Word of God, not in superficial platitudes or inspirational feel-good stories.

It's been a tough decade for optimists.

Nine years ago this month, America's national security and serenity were shattered by the September 11 terrorist attacks. The crashing of airliners into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field left us stunned, frightened and traumatized. Since then, we've been stressed by participation in two foreign wars and a global economic meltdown.

"My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick," writes the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel (8:18). "For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me" (v. 21).

We know what Jeremiah is feeling, don't we?

Heartsickness, grief, loss of joy. Hurt, dismay and deep mourning.

We know it. Even if we don't admit it.

The challenge of embracing Jeremiah is that his profound sadness runs against the grain of our natural American optimism. We have a cultural predisposition to look on the bright side, accentuate the positive and search for the silver lining.


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