Daily Meditation: "Tough Truths"
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard. Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, “It is a waste without human beings or animals,” in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness. - Jeremiah 33:1, 10-11a
The prophets in our sacred texts have a truly difficult job. They are tasked to go into the centers of power and authority and share uncomfortable truths. They are the proverbial “take a look at yourself in the mirror” people for their communities and kingdoms, and they usually don’t get a warm reception.
Is that any surprise? How much do any of us like it when even our closest friends share some uncomfortable truths about our behavior or what’s going on in our lives; especially if we know it already but aren’t ready or willing to do anything about it? We can push those prophet-friends away, we can sever friendships, and in the course of history, the collective “we” have confined and even killed such voices in our midst.
In fact, we’re told here that Jeremiah receives the word of the Lord a second time while he’s in prison. He was there because he was trying to warn the king of Judah that the Babylonians were going to take things over. No one wanted to hear it, so they threw him in prison. But here, by the time we get to chapter 33 of this story, people’s ears and minds are changing and they’re more ready to truly listen. And what they hear is actually a message of hope for their future.
How often do we confuse prophetic words of loving truth with words of criticism that we don’t want to hear? How often do we miss out on words of hope for our future because we’re too upset hearing uncomfortable things about our past or present?
When we have prophets in our midst, we would do well to get out of our own way and do some hard listening -- voices of mirth and gladness might just be in store.
God of Wisdom, grant us patience with our own selves and the courage to listen to the prophets in our midst. Difficult truths of the present often bring joyful tidings for the future.