God obviously needs us. And, apparently, we need God.
Chapter 2 of Jeremiah reads like a letter from a bitter lover – a lover who’s been taken advantage of, cheated on, then abandoned. Many of us have been there. Lost in love and mutual happiness, then something happens and it all falls apart. The memories of rapturous fulfillment are still palpable, but something’s changed. The relationship’s broken. Your lover doesn’t need you anymore…of they don’t think they do…or they never did.
Consider God’s words to Israel through the prophet:
I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride…Israel was holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his harvest…What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they want far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? (vs 2b, 3a, 5)
But, somehow, this abandonment God feels is more than just losing love. Love between God and Israel isn’t limited to the metaphor of matrimony. At least from the prophet’s perspective, there’s something wholly illogical and unjust in Israel’s infidelity. It’s political, and goes to the heart of what it means to be in communion with one another and with God.
“[My] people have changed their glory for something that does not profit…Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in.” (vs 11b, 34a)
In pursuit their own lusts and their own wants, they turn on each each other, including the poor. Their lifeblood has stained their garments, though the poor are innocent. This is also their turning from God, and it is self-defeating.
“[Where] are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them come, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.” (vs 28)
Jeremiah writes when Jerusalem was under threat of being ceased. Judah and Israel were to be conquered. There is no greater failure of you or your gods than when someone outside comes in and takes over. Freedom, but more specifically sovereignty, is the greatest political prize. But, by the time the book of Jeremiah was compiled, Israel and Judah had already lost both. This is the story Jeremiah tells.
“Why do you complain against me? You have all rebelled against me?” (vs 29)
Still, there’s more than a cold sense of punishment about this loss and betrayal of God by God’s people. If Jeremiah, the prophet, speaks for God, his voice mourns.
“Can a girl forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.” (vs 32)
Midst the scorn, there is also sorrow. Beneath the deepest anger, there is almost always grief. Grief is pain and loss. Perhaps God’s needs us more than we realize, and we need God. We just don’t really grasp that until we’re in trouble.