ODJ: Crying for Us All

March 31, 2018 

READ: Jeremiah 3:12-22 

“My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts” (v.22).

During the American Civil War, General Stonewall Jackson befriended a little girl at a home where he wintered. Five year old Janie Corbin adored Jackson so much that she wore a piece of gold braid in her hair, taken from the general’s hat.

In March 1863, little Janie contracted scarlet fever and died. The usually stoic Jackson wept bitterly at the news of her passing. A cinematic account of the moment has one of his men saying, “I believe he is crying for us all.” Jackson had seen enough of death.

The prophet Jeremiah had witnessed enough of death too. He’d served the Lord while Jerusalem was in full rebellion against God, so he’d had to prophesy about the judgement Judah would face. Then he’d lived through it.

Jeremiah’s tears for his people reflect the grieving heart of God Himself. “I would love to treat you as my own children!” God said through Jeremiah. “But you have been unfaithful to me” (Jeremiah 3:19-20). So God appealed from the depths of His heart: “ ‘My wayward children . . . come back to me’ ” (v.22).

That lament echoed in Jesus’ words not long before He faced His death on the cross. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He cried. “How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (Matthew 23:37).

Life can have a way of piling grief upon grief. When that happens, we have permission to ‘go to pieces’ for a time. As the poet-warrior David wrote, “[God keeps] track of all [our] sorrows,” and He has “collected all [our] tears in [His] bottle” (Psalm 56:8).Our loving Father has cried for us all, and He cries with us too.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day plan: 1 Samuel 24:1-22

Read Lamentations 3:46-57 to see Jeremiah’s tears, his pain and his source of comfort as Jerusalem lay in ruins. 
What has caused you to grieve recently? How does it encourage you to know that God grieves with us?