In the Book of Lamentations, Jeremiah gives a first-hand, eye witness account of the destruction of Jerusalem. And as the days wear on in chaos and ruin…Jeremiah becomes more and more despondent at the horrific sights, sounds, and smells of his much-loved city. The deep sorrow within him is overwhelming as he watches Jerusalem brought to its knees. But somehow Jeremiah is able to look beyond all the death and devastation around him and put his eyes on God. He centers himself on the things he knows about God…that His love never fails, that God is merciful and kind, and that his hope only comes from Him. Today, take your focus off the disruption and conflict around you and focus instead on God…or as Psalm 130:7 tells us, “Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love…”
The writer of Lamentations is Jeremiah who spent most of his life warning the Jewish people about their blatant sin against God. So as he observes the utter destruction and desolation of Jerusalem, he can hardly take it all in. So aptly named, Lamentations is his lament…his grief at what once was…to what now lies before him. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet”…a man crying out to his countrymen to repent and turn from their sins…only to now witness the consequences of their rebellion first hand. But this horrific scene didn’t stop Jeremiah from continuing to intercede on behalf of his people…confessing their great sinfulness and appealing to God for mercy.
Jeremiah was not popular among the people of Judah! His message from the Lord was primarily one of judgment, which lead to his life often being threatened. During his over 40 years of ministry Jeremiah often implored God to protect him…”Remember me, O Lord; remember me and care for me.” (Jeremiah 15:15) and “Let my persecutors be put to shame, but keep me from shame; let them be terrified, but keep me from terror.” (Jeremiah 17:18) Jeremiah had learned to put his absolute trust in God regardless of what the circumstances looked like around him…for he had discovered there’s no safer place to be than in the very center of God’s Will.
Earlier in this Book of the Old Testament Job had battled with his feelings of abandonment when he said that God was letting loose of his hand and cutting him off. (Job 6:9) Now Job’s feelings of confusion and sorrow were real…as real as the loss of all his children and property. But this feeling of being cut off from the Lord was incorrect…as was his feelings of hopelessness. For there will be many times in our lives that what we pray for and expect God to take care of won’t happen. The young child will still die an untimely death…the diagnosis of cancer will still take our dear friend…and our years-long prayer for a baby will go unanswered. But that doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on us or that He has banished all hope. In the 3rd chapter of Lamentations, Jeremiah’s overwhelming sorrow and hopelessness is overshadowed by this statement, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” God is still there…still loving us…still in control. The question is, can you be ok with that?
In these verses, Jeremiah is looking over the utter destruction of Jerusalem…overwhelmed by the suffering of the people…and realizing it was because of their sin that God had allowed it. But Jeremiah also knew of God’s tremendous capacity for compassion towards His people. For in Isaiah 54: 7-8 God says, ” For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.” Never underestimate God’s compassion to change any situation from dire to miraculous.
It’s part of life here on earth…trials, illness, and loss are inevitable. Jeremiah 8:15 sums it up very well how we can feel at these times, ” We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.” In these fearful, confusing times we long for the light at the end of the tunnel…but all we see is darkness. “He has blocked my way so I cannot pass…” In this verse, the Hebrew word for blocked is gadar – which means to build or heap up stones to make a wall. We sometimes do feel walled in or blocked off… but know God may be also protecting you from unseen evil you know nothing about. In those dark times, we need to put all our trust in the Lord and wait for the storm to pass.
Isaiah gives a vivid picture of this knowledge of the Lord in Chapter 11, verse 9 when he says, “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” All mankind has the opportunity to experience the Lord in a personal way…to have intimate fellowship with the Creator of the universe. For you can be “told” about God all your life, but it’s not until you fully grasp what Jesus did for you on that Cross…dying so you may live…that you can really “know” Him. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
Why do you persist in rebellion? Great question, right? We stubbornly continue down paths of disobedience and willful defiance against God…knowing full well, it’s only hurting ourselves. And if we think about it…most of the injuries we receive are self-inflicted because of the foolish choices we make. Jeremiah 30:17 says, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds declares the Lord.” Disobedience causes unsoundness within us. But God wants to come and restore us back to health…returning us to wholeness and peace.
In this world of immediate gratification… where there seems to be no control or limits placed on decency or morality anymore…should we be surprised when young people aimlessly wander through life without goals, plans, and purpose? Their whole life has been centered around the next selfie…the next Social Media post…the next momentary pleasure. For when you ask them what they want to be doing in five years and how they’re going about achieving that right now…they give you a blank stare. Without direction, we flounder. Without limits, we lose inhibitions. Without a plan and purpose, our life is truly meaningless and empty. God has a plan and purpose for everyone…a wonderful life full of joy, self-discovery, and most of all peace.
It’s easy to trust the Lord when everything is going great in our lives. When we’re happy and healthy and all around us is peaceful…it’s almost effortless to put our faith in God. But it’s what happens when the unexpected and the unanticipated crash into our lives that really shows how rooted and grounded we are in Him. Droughts are long dry spells when rain doesn’t fall…the plants wither and the ground cracks. There are times when all of us can go through “spiritual” dry spells. Times when our soul seems parched, our body is withering, and our mind cracking under the stress… and we feel God is so far away. But if we’re firmly rooted in the streams of living water, regardless of the trial, we can still flourish and grow.