A Time Without Rain
1These are the words that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah about the time when there was no rain:
2“The nation of Judah cries as if someone has died,
and her cities are very sad.
They are distressed over the land.
A cry goes up to God from Jerusalem.
3The important men send their servants to get water.
They go to the wells,
but they find no water.
So they return with empty jars.
They are ashamed and embarrassed
and cover their heads in shame.
4The ground is dry and cracked open,
because no rain falls on the land.
The farmers are upset and sad,
so they cover their heads in shame.
5Even the mother deer in the field
leaves her newborn fawn to die,
because there is no grass.
6Wild donkeys stand on the bare hills
and sniff the wind like wild dogs.
But their eyes go blind,
because there is no food.”
7We know that we suffer because of our sins.
Lord, do something to help us for the good of your name.
We have left you many times;
we have sinned against you.
8God, the Hope of Israel,
you have saved Israel in times of trouble.
Why are you like a stranger in the land,
or like a traveler who only stays one night?
9Why are you like someone who has been attacked by surprise,
like a warrior who is not able to save anyone?
But you are among us, Lord,
and we are called by your name
so don’t leave us without help!
10This is what the Lord says about the people of Judah:
“They really love to wander from me;
they don’t stop themselves from leaving me.
So now the Lord will not accept them.
He will now remember the evil they do
and will punish them for their sins.”
11Then the Lord said, “Don’t pray for good things to happen to the people of Judah. 12Even if they fast, I will not listen to their prayers. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy the people of Judah with war, hunger, and terrible diseases.”
13But I said, “Oh, Lord God, the prophets keep telling the people, ‘You will not suffer from an enemy’s sword or from hunger. I, the Lord, will give you peace in this land.’ ”
14Then the Lord said to me, “Those prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them or appoint them or speak to them. They have been prophesying false visions, idolatries, worthless magic, and their own wishful thinking. 15So this is what I say about the prophets who are prophesying in my name. I did not send them. They say, ‘No enemy will attack this country with swords. There will never be hunger in this land.’ So those prophets will die from hunger and from an enemy’s sword. 16And the people to whom the prophets speak will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem. There they will die from hunger and from an enemy’s sword. And no one will be there to bury them, or their wives, or their sons, or their daughters. I will punish them.
17“Jeremiah, speak this message to the people of Judah:
‘Let my eyes be filled with tears
night and day, without stopping.
My people have received a terrible blow;
they have been hurt badly.
18If I go into the country,
I see people killed by swords.
If I go into the city,
I see much sickness, because the people have no food.
Both the priests and the prophets
have been taken to a foreign land.’ ”
19Lord, have you completely rejected the nation of Judah?
Do you hate Jerusalem?
Why have you hurt us so badly
that we cannot be made well again?
We hoped for peace,
but nothing good has come.
We looked for a time of healing,
but only terror came.
20Lord, we admit that we are wicked
and that our ancestors did evil things.
We have sinned against you.
21For your sake, do not hate us.
Do not take away the honor from your glorious throne.
Remember your agreement with us,
and do not break it.
22Do foreign idols have the power to bring rain?
Does the sky itself have the power to send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God.
You are our only hope,
because you are the one who made all these things.