Oh that I could comfort myself against sorrow! my heart is faint within me.
I’ve recently delved into the books of the Prophets in the Bible. I studied them in college, and as a student, I looked at dates and names, trying to keep everything straight for papers and tests. But as an adult, re-listening to God’s earthly voices during a dark period in Israel’s history–I have to say I become speechless. To hear the raw anger and sadness and grief of these men. They love God and their nation, and they want nothing else but for God’s people to learn that same love and obedience. And while I hear and appreciate each prophet’s heart, I do have a favorite. I absolutely love Jeremiah. From his first words, I identify with Jeremiah’s trepidation and suffering and desperate pleas for repentance.
“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:6-8
I can certainly hear the prophet’s gigantic sigh as he says, “Ok Lord. Here we go.” And then Jeremiah, considered “the weeping prophet” proceeds to preach for 40 years during the Babylonian captivity and exile of Judah in the 6th century BC. Jeremiah remains behind with those who were not taken into exile. He, instead, follows those left behind into Egypt. Throughout those 40 years, he battles false prophets and begs those Hebrews remaining NOT to abandon Judah for Egypt. And when they don’t listen he goes with them. He suffers with them. He loves God and loves God’s people.
I think I love Jeremiah so much because he speaks such honest words of grief and despair–but he never gives up. He continues to trust in the Lord and allows himself to feel grief out of love for others.
I love Jeremiah, too, because I can understand what he sees. Do you ever want to grieve for those around you? Do you ever just want to SCREAM at those who are pro-choice, or pro-death penalty and say, “WAKE UP!! You are DESTROYING this country??” As a part of the American Solidarity Party, we know the truth that abortions kill babies. According to The Numbers, 50 million babies have been killed since 1973. And I’m certain the number is actually higher. As an adopted child myself, my heart shatters to know thousands of classmates I could have known, or playmates that my children will never know. And 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted. As a special education assistant teacher, I grieve for those sweet children who were never given a chance to bring joy into the world because their special needs were first discovered in the womb. That physical pain brings me to tears!
I also feel Jeremiah’s pain when he challenges the false prophets, urging his countrymen to tune out the noise. Are we not the same with constant background social media noise? We are living in an age swirling with misinformation and so many opinions and experiences disguised as truth. And because everyone can share from behind a computer screen (yes, as I am doing now) it becomes exhausting trying to find our place in between science, and education, and expert witnesses, and religion. Divisions in this country are worthy of our sadness.
Since March of 2020, I personally have grieved the loss of friends and coworkers. Because of social media I suddenly knew too much. I realized they shared different beliefs and preached differently about Planned Parenthood, BLM and masks, and QAnon vs. Antifa, etc. I had to accept the loss of what I thought I knew and understood about those around me. It can be a lonely walk towards your own corner.
It is ok to grieve today–we have all lost so much.
We are all suffering. We can blame the storming of the Capital Building on January 6, 2021, or the closing of our country in March of 2020 at the start of the pandemic, or the recession of 2008, or to September 11, 2001, or go all the way back to Roe v. Wade in 1973. Or we can look all the way back to how our nation was built upon slavery, leading to the Civil War. There are so many turning points throughout our short national history–The United States has had a rocky foundation and adolescence. There is so much for which to be sad. And we are allowed to be heartbroken! We have permission to grieve for our country.
But what I really love about Jeremiah is he NEVER gives up and abandons his friends. He continues to preach and teach and love until his death in Egypt. He never stops sharing the truth. So for those of us out there, so tired and angry and lonely and sad–we must never give in to despair. We must keep preaching and teaching all that we know is true and good. We must always keep faith that one day this country can grow into an adulthood that we are proud of.
At the end of each day, we must never give up hope. We are not alone in this fight for our country that I know we love so much. Though small and new, we can continue to help grow the voice of the American Solidarity Party, preaching love and unity. For as Jeremiah reminds us, “Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).
Emily Clary has worked in Catholic education since 2005. She has worked in parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Providence and the Diocese of Charlotte. She has taught middle school Religion and worked in Catholic School Campus Ministry in Woonsocket, RI and in Raleigh NC.