“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning…”Matthew 2:18
Overshadowed by the miracle of the virgin birth and the greetings by shepherds and the Magi is a tragic account of loss and suffering. Matthew 2:16-18 says that Herod, in a fit of vengeful rage, orders the massacre of all boys in Bethlehem ages two years old and under. He had been outwitted by the Magi of the newborn king’s location, so he decided to dispose of this “challenger” the best way he knew how. This is the occasion upon which Matthew quotes Jeremiah’s words of weeping and great mourning.
I’ve often been puzzled by this account. None of the other Gospels mentions it. It just doesn’t seem to fit within the context of glad tidings and the coming of the Messiah. Most of the time we do not mention it at all, even within our churches. But we must be careful not to gloss over it. We can ignore ugliness, perhaps even try our best to forget about it, but the truth is, it’s still there.
I believe this story is in the Bible because, despite its tragic elements, it points to hope. When Jeremiah uttered these words, Israel was about to be overtaken by the Babylonians. They would weep for the loss of their nation. But later God tells them to dry their tears because he would restore what was lost (31:16). Matthew uses these words in the same way. Weep today but hope in the fact that God will bring about an even greater salvation.
Perhaps your Christmas isn’t quite so merry or bright this year. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or suffered a broken
relationship. Whatever the case, my prayer is that you cling to the hope that Jesus provides. Certainly, there are days we weep. Life has a way of bringing us to tears. But we never weep without hope. Just as God promises their weeping will not last forever, neither will ours. We can always hope in Him.