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?
Admitting we’re wrong and asking forgiveness is hard to do. And when it comes to acknowledging our sin before God it gets even tougher. It’s not that we’re deliberately rebelling against Him…of blatantly and conspicuously sinning for all to see. No, it’s rather sins by omission that really mess us up. These are secret sins that are easy to hide…things that only we may know about. These sins of omission are things neglected and left undone in our lives…like regular time in the Word, or prayer. Or they’re things we chose to turn a blind eye to…knowing the Lord wants us to act, but choosing to be apathetic instead. These sins of omission are disobedience at its best and need to be dealt with, for as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier to allow these sins to hide in our sub-conscience and justify them rather than admit they are wrong.
None of us is immune to grief, suffering, and troubles…for they are just part of this journey we call life. But it’s good to reflect on the attributes of the Lord spoken of in this Scripture today. God’s love for us is everlasting and unconditional…for there is nothing in and of ourselves we can do to obtain this love…it is a free gift given by grace not our works. But also there is nothing so terrible we can ever do that this love can’t reach us. Mercy and kindness are central to God’s character, and it’s out of this great love for us that we can find forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
As it tells us in Proverbs, the Lord’s purpose always prevails…for no pivotal event in the course of history happens unless the Lord first ordains it. And for the human mind this is far too difficult to take in and understand. But to add to this confusion, the next verse goes on to say, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” (Lam. 3:38) That’s when we need to be reminded that God’s ways are not our ways, but that God is always in control. For it tells us in Psalm 33:9-11, “For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the people. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”
The Hebrews conceived of death as a giant pit. And when we’re in the darkest deeps of that pit mentality and emotionally…when depression and disappointment have taken over our lives, we have only one thing we can do. Out of the very depths of that hole we must cry out to the Lord… for He will hear us, listen to our pleas, and bring peace as only He can.
Life does not spare anyone from loss, sorrow, and pain. So when we’re in the middle of trials, it’s difficult to take our eyes off the sadness and onto God. But here in Lamentations, Jeremiah voices his grief and suffering, yet he reminds himself that God’s great love and compassion never fail…and thus there is hope.