My family is just as frustrated with the political environment as anyone else.  My husband is a federal employee and we are a one income family.  Just the other day, my husband informed me that if the stalemate in Washington continues, he will begin work October 17th with no pay.  This once highly prized job, adorned with security with a capital S, just became a huge weight of worry.  We have never experienced this kind of uncertainty before.  I have a suspicion that this may be a new normal for our family.

Fortunately, we are not the first family in the history of Judeo-Christian faith to be faced with such a trial.  Such troubles have been known to strengthen faith and familial bonds.  The prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish people as they were deported from their homeland.   Babylon attacked, Judea crumbled.  Jerusalem belonged to Babylon now.  And the prophet Jeremiah had very little sugar for coating this very bitter pill.  Even before the battle final begins, Jeremiah brought a word from God saying that the Jewish people will not win (Jeremiah 1:9).  False prophets waited in the wings to counter this negativity.  It made sense to give the Jewish army hope.  Men fight better when they think God is on their side. Jeremiah was so persistent with his blunt truth that he was beaten by his own brothers (12:6), imprisoned (28:6) and threatened with death (38:4).   Only the incoming Babylonian king had appreciation for his work.  King Nebuchadnezzar gives him the freedom to communicate with the deportees.  So Jeremiah writes to those masses sent far way words they do not want to hear.  In Jeremiah 29:1-7, he advises them to get comfortable, invest in the neighborhood, and make long term plans.  No one wanted to do that.  As to be expected false prophets countered Jeremiah’s correspondence with promises of homecoming and future happiness in the homeland.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “Tell the truth, but tell it slant.”  This is a concept the prophet Jeremiah never quite mastered.  Yet his words were true.  Everything unfolded exactly as he predicted.  And his advice for living through the tough times was on spot.  I sure could use a Jeremiah these days but would I recognize him?  I, like the deportees of the Babylonian exile, long for comforting words promising a return to security for my family.  Whether I subscribe to MSNBC or FOX news, I find myself consoled when I immerse my mind deep into my political slant, shutting out the other side.  Jeremiah teaches me that the best advice may not always be extrapolated from our favorite news anchor or politician.  Perhaps wisdom can be found on the opposing side too.

Secondly, Jeremiah tells his Jewish readership to get comfortable in exile by “seeking the welfare of the city of exile where I sent you and pray to the Lord on its behalf…”  Jeremiah is basically encouraging good citizenship highlighted by a concern for others (even the ones that hold you captive).  Application of these words to my situation leaves me with a challenge.  Can I listen to those who I feel are holding our nation’s economy captive?  Can I stay focused despite my frustration?  Can I seek the welfare of all (not just myself) and pray for those who I feel are misled?

I could criticize Washington all day for not adopting this approach, but that would be hypocrisy.  As deadlines loom, I find myself knee deep in Jeremiah’s challenge.

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