A devotional thought from Christian George for “Judah”
Losing a member of your family can be devastating. After the initial trauma of death, after the funeral arrangements are made, after the dinners stop coming, after the friends stop coming by to check on how you are doing, after the kind notes stop appearing in the mailbox, it is then, and truly then, that the real loss is felt. It is felt when you walk by the empty rocking chair that he used to sit in. Or when you wake up in the morning and she’s not there beside you on the bed. That’s when the pain goes bone deep. That’s when the reality of the person’s absence is fully felt.
The real tragedy of the fall of the Southern Kingdom in 586 B.C. was not the merciless invasion of Jerusalem. It was not the manner in which the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar slaughtered the young men of the city in the very sanctuary of God (2 Chron. 36:17). Nor was the real tragedy manifest in the large numbers of slaves that were forced to travel all the way to Babylon. All of this was horrible, sure enough, but it was not the worst. The worst thing about the Babylonian exile was the palpable absence of God.
Once upon a time, God had led His people through the wilderness by a pillar of fire at night. He had parted a sea for them and provided for all their needs. But now God’s people were on their own. No temple. No sacrifices. No atonement. All they had were their memories. And they recorded these memories in Psalm 137: “May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!” (v. 6).
It can be a devastating thing to endure the deafening silence of God. But there is always hope for God’s people.
Pause and Reflect
• Have you ever felt God’s absence?
• How does the exile of God’s people remind us of the consequences of sin?
• What are some of the covenant promises of God that can help us through the difficult times when our faith is lacking?