Jeremiah 11:18-20 (NRSV)
Verse 18It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. Verse 19But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!" Verse 20But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.
“When you’re up to your armpits in alligators, it’s hard to remember your original objective.” In this first of the prophet Jeremiah’s laments, the alligators are circling him and we hear him wrestling with God. Head in hands, tears running down his face, shoulders hunched and shaking, Jeremiah cries out to God. After all, he has just found out that people are plotting to kill him! Why is he surprised?
When Jeremiah was called to this work God warned him that people “will fight against you.” Hearing a threat and experiencing it are two different things. Besides, he also received a promise: “They will not prevail against you…for I am with you to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19)
But it’s hard to remember God’s call and promise when alligators are circling. Getting into “good trouble” isn’t easy work. Our pain, God’s pain, and the world’s pain are one. It’s where God calls us. It’s where God meets us.
God of presence and promise, you hear our cries. You know our needs. Remind us we are not sent alone, but invited to accompany you in the work you are doing in your world. Amen.