This is what the Lord says: "Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, 'Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.' See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: 'He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.' For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord--the grain, the new wine and olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 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. I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty," declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 31:7-14
So can you believe it's been almost two years ago that we were hearing about this virus that was emerging and had been of concern in China and then quickly began to spread around the globe, and if I remember right, we're about 22 months out from when we first had those indications that we were going to have to experience some shutdowns and isolation and quarantining and all of those things that took place, and in some ways are still taking place, three months, they told us initially rights, but as we see from the news, it still has not hit its full peak, and we just keep thinking How long, Lord... How much longer can this go on like this... We're tired of it. Were frustrated.
As if seeing 2020 come to an end, wasn't enough, and looking forward to 2021, 2021 kind of smacked us in the face and said, Oh, you think it's gonna be better, don't you... And I've seen some memes on Facebook that say things like, let's just be real careful, easing our way into 2022, nobody claim this to be your best year yet. Don't touch anything, be quiet. And maybe we'll go unnoticed. Well, I think people are feeling that way. But it's not just the pandemic, we'll look at the state of the world, record numbers of natural disasters, forest fires raging on the news this morning near Boulder, Colorado, nearly a thousand homes destroyed by the wild fires there, and we look at all of the conflict and turmoil and Russia poised to invade, and the dissension and the contentious-ness between our own politicians, and we just wanna say... Where's that reset button? Can we start over again? Somehow, for the golfers out there, we're wanting to take a mulligan and try again, but unfortunately we know that trying again doesn't mean that we can go back to some other place and start over and hope we get a different outcome.
But this idea of a new beginning, there's one that many of us long for and cling to, New Years is often that time where everybody looks at the calendar and says, Okay, this year, this year, I'm gonna do this different, I'm gonna spend less, I'm gonna eat better I'm gonna exercise more, I'm gonna take that vacation I've been talking about, not done, whatever it is, we pick that date on the calendar and say, Because of this moment on the calendar, I'm going to do things differently from here on out and... Well, most people, those good intentions and best efforts might last a few days, a couple of weeks, but we're not real good at making those new beginnings for ourselves, sometimes it seems like the deck is stacked against us that in spite of or despite any of our best efforts, we don't see the results. And there's just no traction... To make that head way.
We're not alone. People throughout history have dealt with the same challenges and struggles that we face, ours may be different and unique to us, but their struggles nonetheless. For the people of Israel, being conquered and carried off into captivity was not a good day. It was not a good year. It was not a good number of years, the best and the brightest were packed up and carted off to Babylon and held in captivity. The prophet Jeremiah was the one who came and spoke God's word to them. Now, the thing about prophets that we cannot lose sight of is that prophets don't necessarily predict the future, they're not fortune tellers, there are people who know the heart of God, and they know the heart of God so well that they are able to speak God's truth into situations and circumstances, sometimes the prophets word is a word of caution and warning, you'd better not do that, because if you do, you probably won't go very well for you.