Tag Archives: Jeremiah 12

The Pain of Separation

I have forsaken my house,
    I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my heart
    into the hands of her enemies.
Jeremiah 12:7 (NRSVCE)

I’m assuming that for many living in the melting pot of America, the concept of a heritage and a people may not be as strong as it once was. My father moved our family away from his home when I was young and I grew up removed from the Dutch heritage in which he was raised. As an adult, I doubled-down and returned to my roots, moving to a town that is rabid about its Dutch heritage. I have an appreciation for what it means to embrace and celebrate the people and the culture that are your genetic roots.

In my Dutch heritage there is a word that you’ll still hear old-timers pull out once in a while: afscheiding, It means to “separate.” When an individual or group left the fold they became tagged “afscheiden.” I get the sense that in most circles it was once the Dutch version of a scarlet letter.

In the previous chapter we learned that Jeremiah had so incensed the people of his hometown with his prophecy that a price had been put on his head. There was a plot to kill him. How appropriate then, to read in today’s chapter, that the weeping prophet is feeling like an afscheiden. God has called Jeremiah to declare the destruction of his unrepentant people over and over and over again. Now his own people have turned against him. He feels separated, ostracized, and alienated. Jeremiah loves his people, his culture, and his heritage and yet his prophecy is all about Judah’s fall and destruction. There is a war raging inside him. Following God meant separation from his heritage.

Along this life journey I have walked alongside many people who have had to battle the deep internal struggle of parting ways with the faith and/or culture of their family and heritage. Every culture and heritage has it’s strengths and corollary struggles. A time comes when for the spiritual health of an individual or family there must come separation from a church, a family system, or a community. It is tremendously difficult for some to risk social and relational stigma and fallout. Jeremiah is feeling that. Following God feels like a betrayal of his family, people, and heritage.

This morning in the quiet I’m saying a “thank you” for all the great things that my family system, heritage, and culture have afforded me. I am also making a renewed commitment to follow wherever God calls me, wherever I’m supposed to be, even if I’m branded an afscheiden.

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 12

You are right, O God, and you set things right. I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?
   Why do con artists make it big?
You planted them and they put down roots.
   They flourished and produced fruit.
They talk as if they’re old friends with you,
   but they couldn’t care less about you.
Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
   You don’t let me get by with a thing!
Jeremiah 12:1-4 (MSG)

One thing I have noticed a long the way; It is very difficult for us to stop comparing ourselves to others.

  • “Why won’t you buy me a car? Every one of my girlfriends’ parents bought them a car!”
  • “The only reason that guy got published was because he’s the son of someone famous. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Why don’t I have those connections?”
  • “I went to my friends house. It’s so big, and it’s so beautiful. Why can’t I have that?”
  • “That guy runs his business with less integrity than the mafia and he’s making money hand over fist. I try so hard to do the right thing and I can’t get a new client to save my life. What’s up with that?!”
  • “Why does that guy win the lottery and I’m still stuck with more bills than income this month? What gives, God? How about giving me a break for once!”
  • “At least I’m not THAT down-and-out guy. I must be doing something right.”
  • “Awwwww. Her husband gave her flowers. Why does she get him and I’m stuck being married to such an insensitive dork.” 

I am on my own personal journey. It is my journey and while there are certain things common to the human experience, it is still unique. God’s plan for someone else is different than His plan for me. Comparing their path and mine is apples and oranges. My job is to walk my own path well, and seek God’s will for me in each step. I will always be able to find others who appear to have it better, easier, and happier than I do despite the fact that they also appear to fall short of my own personal sense of self-righteousness.

“But Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Helga Weber