A Child Named 'Today' 

Children in the Merciless Heart


Thus says YHWH: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.  Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are not.  (Jeremiah 31:15)


This snippet is a perfect example of why Jeremiah is nicknamed "The Weeping."  It is no wonder that the evangelist Matthew appropriates  the verse to describe the heinous act of Herod  the Great who,  


when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old and under, according to  the  time which  he had ascertained from the wise men.  Then  was  fulfilled  what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:  "a voice is heard in Ramah...."  (Matthew 2:16-18)


A CHILD NAMED TODAY ... Prolifically Raw: JENNIFER'S WEB LOGHerod was living a paranoid's dream - everyone wanted his crown, reign,  and  power.  And he was a  skilled  child-killer,  having methodically done away with two of his own.


With the aid of such epics as Franco Zefferelli's Jesus of Nazareth, I can imagine the scene of horror and death in  Bethlehem, as Herod's henchmen storm the unsuspecting madonnas of that land with the short swords of the Kittim drawn and plunging for the heart; mother and child impaled with one thrust.  The  perpetrators of death soon depart, and the wailing of bereaved, bloodied Rachels fills the air like cursed, shrill whistles.


I think to myself, "If I could have only been there, I could have  done something.  I could have blown the whistle, rang the bell, sounded the shofar.  Yes, if only some of us who are called by the Child’s name could have been there by some means, any means, we would surely have done something to save these precious children!”  


In similar fashion, we may apply our Jeremiah text to a modern catastrophe involving children with little more hope than those of Bethlehem.  2.8 billion children under the age of 15 live in this world today, a whopping 48% of the entire population.  1.5 billion of these live in underdeveloped third world countries where the per capita income is less than $300 per year.  Almost half die before the age of five.  You see, our modern-day Herod is an evil spirit who is called by names such as Bereavement, Lamentation and Weeping.  Rallying an unholy trinity of Poverty, Ignorance and Disease, he steals the lives of over 13 million children every year, 36,000 each day, from mothers who refuse to be comforted.


Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral, who is a native of one such poverty-stricken country, sums up the situation most appropriately:


We  are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting  the fountain of life.  Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot.  Now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, his senses are being developed.   To him we cannot answer,  "Tomorrow,"  his name is "Today."


Raised in the Cane-cutting BateyA child named Today is black, illiterate, impoverished, with the characteristic orange hair, yellow eyes, and distended belly of the severely malnourished.   A child named Today lives in a hut of sticks and straw with five or ten other family members; being the smallest, she is the last to eat.  A child named Today is full of parasites,  for she drinks from the same well or stream that her village uses for the purpose of sewage disposal.  A child named Today has little hope for tomorrow.  She may never even have a change to meet the Savior in this life.


A child named Today lives in the heart of the merciless sugar cane Bateys of the Dominican Republic or in some tight space of a disease-ridden suburb of Port-au-Prince.  She has never had the experience of drinking cool, fresh water, bathing, or dressing properly; may never have the opportunity of attending primary school, church, or engaging in wholesome recreational activities; will probably be enslaved to the ignorance of voodoo and superstition for all of her short, miserable life.


A child named Today is also known by other names, one of which is Esperanza Paul.  We know little about Esperanza, apart from what little information is provided to us by the overseas mission sponsorship dossier.  It simply says, "she lives with her parents, one brother and three sisters in a one-roomed house near a village in Haiti.  She is twelve years old, and she attends Mission School." 


As nondescript as these words are, it tells us that Esperanza has been able to stay alive for twelve years, which is no small miracle; and she is attending the school of a Messiahian mission, which is a great miracle.  "She lives" ... "she attends;"  these are important words!  So as her name suggests (for Esperanza means hope), she hopes, just like the over-privileged children of our homeland. 


After all, hasn't it been written,


Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from  tears!  There is hope for the future! Your children shall come back  to  you from the land of the enemy, the  land of death.  For all your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord.  (Jeremiah 31:16)


Although the threat of our modern day Herod is exponentially greater than any that could have sprung from the prophet's imagination, there is yet a little hope in Ramah!  As long as the Messiah lives in people, there are chances that those called by His name will come alive like the bones of Ezekiel for the sake of children named Today across the world.   Didn't Jesus give us  the message plainly enough:


He took a poverty stricken, third world child, a child like  today's children, and set that child  before his followers, saying, Whoever receives one such child in my  name receives me; and whoever receives me  receives not me, but the one who sent me.  (Mark 9:37)


If we interpret the Messiah's words in the light of our commitment to the Kingdom of Light, we can no longer practice a confined, inward-bent religion, omitting the suffering of thousands of children just nearby, while practicing our materialistic delusions.  We can no longer close our eyes to the vision of  these seemingly subhuman beings, so far removed from our own sense of lifestyle.  Rather, we must look to our Savior for the same gift of compassion that he had in His earthly ministry, covet it, and then step forth in acts of redemption and restoration.  


We must prepare ourselves, then engage today's Herod in battle and fight intelligently and tirelessly.  As children ourselves, we can no longer placate our own consciences by saying "tomorrow."   We have neither time now choice but to answer the call "today."