5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD;
8 “The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms.
9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet."
This passage selected for today really seems to be fitting in our present situation. Hananiah was the official prophet of the king’s court, who pretty much said whatever the king wanted to hear. “Oh, everything is going to be fine. Your reign will be a model for peace and prosperity. You will even bring back the exiles who went to Babylon and the whole nation will be united again.” Jeremiah, on the other hand, was independent of the court and prophesied just about the opposite of what Hananiah did. He told the king and the court, “If you don’t start doing the things that please God, everything is going to go wrong for you.” He displeased the king so much that the king wanted him killed for speaking out.
So Jeremiah said to Hananiah, I really do hope that peace breaks out. If it does, we will know that you really do speak for God. But prophets before us didn’t. God raised up prophets when the people needed to wake up and do the right things, and assured the leaders that violence, hunger, and disease would follow if they continued the way they were going.
We really want to believe that everything is going to be ok. We want to believe that the virus is under control, that we aren’t going to get sick, that very soon we can go back to life the way it was in February, before all this virus stuff started. We want the Hananiahs of our time to be right.
Unfortunately, the Jeremiahs - the scientists and medical specialists - tell us that probably isn’t going to happen. They would all be delighted if a miracle happened and the virus suddenly disappeared, but they don’t expect miracles. They warn us that if we don’t start doing the right things that it will get worse than we can possibly imagine.
It is upsetting and frustrating that our lives are constrained in ways we would never have imagined just 4 months ago. It is possibly even more frustrating to know that these constraints may be with us as long as two years!
I have been told that “Faith can move the mountain, but you need to take a shovel.”
I am personally hoping the Hananiahs are right - that miracles happen and soon there will be a cure and a vaccine and everything will go back to the way it was. But while I wait I will use my shovel, and do the things the Jeremiahs suggest, no matter how much I dislike these limits on my life style.
Compassionate God, we are so tired of restrictions and constraints. We would love a miracle, but know that we cannot demand one. May we be granted the stamina to endure our present reality, and may our loving care for one another be made manifest in our willingness to do those things that the medical experts tell us to do. Amen