I look with sad eyes upon our Jeremiah passage today. He paints a picture of a barren wasteland – no one in it, cities in ruin. He carries the burden and sorrow of a doomed nation. It reminded me of the hopelessness, isolation, and withdrawal that some feel – to those who have contemplated suicide.
I have been a pastor long enough to see suicide touch our communities far more times than any of us would like. Sometimes we don’t even know. Or it goes unspoken.
Suicide can be so devastating, with questions left unanswered, pain, grief, and often secret tears, sometimes years in the making. Trauma and distress are all around – and not just our community, but the whole world – suffering and isolation seems to abound.
How do we reach out to each other in love? How do we reach out to hopelessness, either within us or within others? The plot thickens when we see the stigma that our society holds around mental illness, and the quiet longing for confidentiality and gentleness.
Little comfort was drawn from the other passages for today, which speak of judgment and authority. (A lot of the readings in Lent can be pretty heavy.)
As always, I am tempted to sit back, soak it in, and spend my time listening – not to turn away from the pain, but to gently embrace it – listening to God, listening to others, listening for hope. This is a great thing to do on days like today, Spring break for many, enjoying a day off of work or school.
I think one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, and give God, is the gift of listening. It is then we come in tune with the needs around us, and begin to sense a way forward.
May your day be filled with quiet understanding. May the hope of the Gospel of Christ reign in your hearts – for in God you have purpose. May the hope of a better life wash over you, and may you all know that your lives are bound up in Christ Jesus our Lord, the hope for this desperate world.