Quotations from NKJV Bible Gateway https://www.biblegateway.com/ and
Dr. Larry Crabb When God’s Ways Make No Sense unless indicated otherwise
When reading the passages from Lamentations, we need to consider the context:
- Jeremiah the Prophet of God is writing after experiencing the horrors of invasion and captivity.
- God has recently brought judgment against His chosen people working through an even a brutal and evil foreign nation (Babylon).
- Lamentations is a collection of laments or passionate poetry that expresses deep grief and sorrow. A lament is a type of prayer! Jeremiah is pouring out his heart before God and seeking comfort. Pay careful attention to how the mood changes!
- Each chapter is a separate poem–in Hebrew the starting verse is in alphabetical order.
For a quick overview of Lamentations:
Passage 1 : Lamentations 3:20-26 NKJV: Remember and wait!
20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
Note how Jeremiah recalls and remembers hope. He is reminding himself of God’s truths. The proceeding verses emotionally describe experiencing God’s wrath. Jeremiah uses various images to describe how he feels. He remembers his grief and disappointment. BUT, in verse 21, he transitions.
He remembers God’s mercy, love, and compassion then recalls they are renewed daily! He remembers God’s faithfulness. Even in the midst of terrible storm of grief and loss, Jeremiah remembers these aspects of God’s Nature. The NIV and NASB uses the words “great love” in place of “Lord’s mercies.”
God’s love, compassion, and mercy are renewed every morning! God is our portion and we are to wait for him. What does it mean God is my portion?
What does it mean that God’s mercies are new every day?
Jeremiah is reminding us that in our most difficult moments we can find God’s love and compassion as we wait on God! Also we hope in knowing that our true happiness and source of blessing(s) is in God not in our circumstances!
Verses 25 and 26 explain why we wait on God. First, God is good to those who wait. Second, God is good those who seek Him, and third waits silently for His salvation. God wants us to wait on Him while seeking, trusting that He will answer in His time. Consequently, waiting on God isn’t a waste of time nor is it “giving up.” Waiting actually demonstrates faith! While waiting, we are trusting in God instead of our own means or on others. Pastor Mark Vroegop explains:
What if God’s way of loving us and moving us closer to Him involves grief or difficulties? Is it possible that God defines “love” considerably different than we do? Greek philosophy has seven different words for types love with the Bible using four ( Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape)-romantic, familial, friend, God.
Modern English has the word “love” but we tend to describe love in context of degrees. Consider how it’s different when you a friend “loves” you versus romantic partner’s love. If finite, fallen humans love in different ways and degrees, how can we possibly understand and fully recognize an Infinite, Loving God?
My point is that God may be loving us in ways that we don’t feel, understand, or appreciate at the moment. What seems to be as a trial or difficulty may be a great act of redemption or mercy beginning! Consider the story of Joseph and how that God worked through the evil deeds of his brothers to deliver Jacob’s family/descendants from a severe famine. Jesus came to deliver us by dying in our place. Was Jesus’ birth, ministry, and resurrection a great demonstration of God’s love?
We should”tremble” before God according to Larry Crabb. This means that we don’t understand the difficulties and why they come upon us. We can’t see God at work and may wonder what’s going on. But we can tremble knowing that God’s Nature is consistent. God is a firm foundation upon which we can build our lives. Jeremiah and other prophets wondered why God would use the considerably more “evil” nations to punish Israel.
Passage 2: Lamentations 3:37-41: God is in charge!
37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?
38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
Accepting that God is sovereign means to trust that He is in control. While accepting that God is in charge, we daily practice self-reflection. How are we thinking and living? Are there are areas in our life that are not in line with God? Are we worrying about things instead of trusting God? Who is the God of your life? Could it be that we try to make things happen or avoid painful experiences instead of trusting God?
Holy Spirit will make this clear as we pray, reflect, and consider God’s Word. When Holy Spirit convicts, then we are to turn back to God. Remember that repentance is a process! It’s turning back to the Lord and away from our sins. Our repentance isn’t perfect and we will struggle against our own carnal ways.
We need to bring our hearts before God. That’s the grace found in the laments! There are laments in the Book of Psalms as well. It’s proper to discuss your feelings/emotions with God. God knows how we feel and why. I recommend praying through the laments when dealing with difficult emotions/troubles in life. This is one simple way to make sure that your prayers are biblical! For some examples of Psalms of lament:
2 Thessalonians 3:3-5: God Directs our hearts into His Love!
3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.
5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.
Once again we see that God is faithful in two specific ways:
1st–He establishes us–strong footing–idea of building a foundation
2nd-guard us against the Evil One–prevents us from being totally destroyed or led astray–doesn’t mean that Satan won’t attack or harm us. Consider Job in this case.
Verse 5 is a direct prayer of Paul for the Thessalonians. Asking God to direct [lead] hearts into God’s love and Jesus’ patience. Larry Crabb explains the direction in which God leads us:
Holy Spirit works on our selfish nature and creates a thirst for the True Water of Life. For verses on the water of life:
As we experience God and wait upon Him, we come to see that our waiting and time of doubt are leading us to something better! The real danger of trials and difficulties is that we turn inward instead of upwards! We tend to focus on our own “hurts” and how we were treated instead of seeking God and forgiveness for our wrongs. Small slights grow into major grudges as we “rehearse” and relive our past disappointments.
I believe that God frees us from this vicious cycle of egocentric thinking and living. How does God free us? He confronts us with the truth about ourselves. Our nature and tendencies become visible in the trials or temptations we face.
We can easily handle the good and pleasant days. It’s the difficult days that reveals who and what we are seeking and depending on! God’s love doesn’t leave us stranded in our own self-made prison cells! Suffering and pain can lead us to deeper dependence on Him instead of ourselves or others!
May God’s grace, mercy, and compassion increase your thirst for His presence!
I write these words as one daily needing God’s grace and compassion,