Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, proclaims a different sort of weeping for the “great company” destined to return to Zion by brooks of water along straight paths of no stumbling. I’ve always felt badly for Jeremiah as one who was destined to be a bearer of bad tidings. If I had my druthers I’d choose to be Second Isaiah who gets mostly good bits even if he is writing from captivity in a Babylonian garden. But even if most of Jeremiah’s book is grim, as was his lot, there are these wonderfully bright bits of promise that must have given the prophet a reason to be glad, if only for a moment. “The young women rejoice in the dance and the young men and old shall be merry.” Our troubles pale in comparison to what Jeremiah’s people endured but because all troubles are personal I believe comparisons have little value. There will always be someone who has it worse than we do until at some point we stand at the end of the line and look to the left (or right) and realize we are at the end of the line. So this word of promise speaks to every life scattered by circumstances beyond one’s control, put down by hands too strong to resist, languishing in prisons of sorrow and suffering. It may be that we have more mourning to endure before sorrow is turned into joy but if we believe the promise then God is always waiting on the other side of whatever troubles us to tend to us as a shepherd gathers sheep or comfort us as a parent embraces a child. Point is the God beyond knowing knows our plight and in the Word Made Flesh did something about it. Emmanuel. God with us.