According to my husband, I am a big sigher. Apparently I sigh a lot and when I do, I sigh with meaning. Happy contented sighs. Or, the “loaded sigh”-they apparently show signs of frustration, discontent and general disapproval. I am capable of communicating quite a bit of information in the simple act of sighing. After 12 years of marriage my husband has become an expert sigh reader!
I thought about this as I read Jeremiah 25:3-4. He starts off by saying “For twenty-three years…” I wonder if he started off with a loaded sigh before the words ever left his mouth.? Also, in my head I hear him saying these words in the old Vermonter accent (which is very different from Boston by the way). It gives his words a sense of wry irony, glum humor and utter disgust that he’s having to tell them the same thing yet AGAIN! He goes on:
“the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. And though the Lord persistently sent you all his servants the prophets, you have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear…”It’s a serious message that he’s giving them-turn from your ways so the Lord doesn’t have to punish you. I can see in my minds eye the members of the royal court, rolling their eyes thinking “here we go again! The crackpot is back!” On the other side I can picture Jeremiah thinking “here we go again! How many times do I have to tell you the same thing???” I’m thinking that Jeremiah and the other Prophets did a lot of sighing over the years!
Same thing happens today, doesn’t it? Your children are proposing to do something that you know is going to end in disaster and you try to reason with them and they look at you as if you have suddenly grown three heads! “Don’t worry” they say “it’s all under control!” Then, they are stunned when things don’t work out and you, as the parent, are stunned as to why they couldn’t see the obvious! And you have to hold back the urge to say “I told you so!” (In all honesty, sometimes we parents don’t hold back on the “I told you so” response but we do try to be diplomatic.) Our hope is that they learned a valuable lesson from the experience, but there is frustration with the fact that they had to learn the lesson the hard way!
Life is like that. Sometimes we listen to wise counsel and avert disaster. Other times, we plunge head long into doing the same things expecting a different result and all we end up with is disaster and frustration on the other end. The lesson from Jeremiah should be a reminder to all of us! Whether it is family or friends or church, sometimes we need to stop and truly listen to what another person is saying. It is too easy to dismiss the words of others, particularly if they do not line up with the scenario that we have hatched in our head! Granted, there are individuals in the world who criticize anything and everything-they are usually pretty easy to spot. They are the ones who, on a sunny day, will tell you that it’s only temporary cause clouds will soon be on the way. Their message is neither helpful nor hopeful, so take what they have to say with a grain of salt. The people you need to heed are the folks who have your best interest at heart. They are not out to hurt you and you need to recognize that fact! God doesn’t always send “whoa wait” messages in flashy symbols, generally he sends the message through people. If the person is someone who truly cares about you and only wants the best for you then it is important to pause and listen to what they have to say. Then take it to the Lord and ask for discernment. Are their words spoken because they are afraid that you will get hurt? Or, are the words spoken because they are trying to help you avert disaster? There are points in life when a critic can be your very best friend if you listen carefully and wisely to their words.
The lesson for today is listen now so you don’t have to listen to someone say “I told you so” later on! Or as the old sage saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!