The bearer of bad news…

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Jeremiah 20: 7 O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. 8 For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 

As a prophet of God, it was Jeremiah’s job to tell the people what God instructed him to tell. In Jeremiah’s case, it was usually bad news. The people were unfaithful to God, violating the will and ways of God over and over. It was Jeremiah’s job to warn the people that continued unfaithfulness would be disastrous to the nation of Israel. But his words generally fell on deaf ears, which meant he had to repeat these warnings over and over and over again, “For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.”

It’s hard being the one to tell people what they don’t want to hear, but there are times when leadership demands it. Like many of you, I have been watching the drama unfold in Afghanistan as the remaining force of US military personnel was instructed to leave. And as you know, less than two weeks after our military withdrawal, the Taliban have taken control of the entire country (much faster than expected) – making the evacuation of American citizens and our Afghan partners exponentially more difficult. Given how chaotic and messy the withdrawal and evacuation have been, it’s pretty obvious our people were woefully unprepared. Which leads me to believe that either our situational intelligence in Afghanistan was deeply flawed or was mostly accurate but essentially ignored. From what I gather, it was more likely the latter.

Why? Because the facts on the ground did not line up with what our senior political leaders wanted to hear. Now we have a complete mess on our hands. I wonder what will happen to the people who were bearers of bad news to our senior political leaders. One would hope an apology would be in order, an acknowledgement that their bad news was accurate and that we will listen more carefully going forward. But I doubt it. It’s more likely these “prophets of doom” will be silenced or made scapegoats or worse.

Lord protect the Jeremiahs of the world. And give us ears to receive what they have to say, even when we would rather not. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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