“(22) Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (24) “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (25) The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. (26) It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:22-26
Who isn’t familiar with this portion of scripture? We sing these verses in church and use them to worship the Lord. These are the verses we like to concentrate on. But how many of us have read and really identified with the rest of this very emotional chapter of the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah? And how many of us would actually believe that even writing this chapter (this book) was actually an act of worship?
Personally, I have avoided Lamentations as much as possible because so much of it is too close to home for me. I was born in sin, and if that were not enough, I transgressed the law, and need(ed) a savior because I could not help myself. I suffer(ed) greatly in the flesh, in my soul, and cried out to the Lord when the heavens were as brass to me. So why would I want to delve into someone else’s painful story? Thus I avoid Lamentations most of the time and went to the verses that brought me (at least) some emotional comfort.
Yet… there is comfort in Lamentations to be had. And strange as it sounds, this chapter is a song of redemption, though the suffering one here is not Yeshua, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 – it is merely a man, even a prophet, born like every other man under the yoke of sin, knowing his God, knowing he has no other choice than to cry out to heaven even when heaven chooses for a season not to answer.
So I present to you the third chapter of Lamentations and challenge you to try to put yourself in Jeremiah’s place emotionally, to try to understand why even through his suffering and pain, some of which he ascribed to his God, even so he cried out to Yahweh.
“(1) I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. (2) He has led me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. (3) Surely He has turned His hand against me Time and time again throughout the day. (4) He has aged my flesh and my skin, And broken my bones. (5) He has besieged me And surrounded me with bitterness and woe. (6) He has set me in dark places Like the dead of long ago. (7) He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy. (8) Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer. (9) He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. (10) He has been to me a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in ambush. (11) He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces; He has made me desolate. (12) He has bent His bow And set me up as a target for the arrow. (13) He has caused the arrows of His quiver To pierce my loins. (14) I have become the ridicule of all my people— Their taunting song all the day. (15) He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drink wormwood. (16) He has also broken my teeth with gravel, And covered me with ashes. (17) You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. (18) And I said, “My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD.” (19) Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall. (20) My soul still remembers And sinks within me. (21) This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. (22) Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (24) “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (25) The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. (26) It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD. (27) It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. (28) Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him; (29) Let him put his mouth in the dust— There may yet be hope. (30) Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, And be full of reproach. (31) For the Lord will not cast off forever. (32) Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. (33) For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men. (34) To crush under one’s feet All the prisoners of the earth, (35) To turn aside the justice due a man Before the face of the Most High, (36) Or subvert a man in his cause— The Lord does not approve. (37) Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, When the Lord has not commanded it? (38) Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That woe and well-being proceed? (39) Why should a living man complain, A man for the punishment of his sins? (40) Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the LORD; (41) Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven. (42) We have transgressed and rebelled; You have not pardoned. (43) You have covered Yourself with anger And pursued us; You have slain and not pitied. (44) You have covered Yourself with a cloud, That prayer should not pass through. (45) You have made us an offscouring and refuse In the midst of the peoples. (46) All our enemies Have opened their mouths against us. (47) Fear and a snare have come upon us, Desolation and destruction. (48) My eyes overflow with rivers of water For the destruction of the daughter of my people. (49) My eyes flow and do not cease, Without interruption, (50) Till the LORD from heaven Looks down and sees. (51) My eyes bring suffering to my soul Because of all the daughters of my city. (52) My enemies without cause Hunted me down like a bird. (53) They silenced my life in the pit And threw stones at me. (54) The waters flowed over my head; I said, “I am cut off!” (55) I called on Your name, O LORD, From the lowest pit. (56) You have heard my voice: “Do not hide Your ear From my sighing, from my cry for help.” (57) You drew near on the day I called on You, And said, “Do not fear!” (58) O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life. (59) O LORD, You have seen how I am wronged; Judge my case. (60) You have seen all their vengeance, All their schemes against me. (61) You have heard their reproach, O LORD, All their schemes against me, (62) The lips of my enemies And their whispering against me all the day. (63) Look at their sitting down and their rising up; I am their taunting song. (64) Repay them, O LORD, According to the work of their hands. (65) Give them a veiled heart; Your curse be upon them! (66) In Your anger, Pursue and destroy them From under the heavens of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:1-66 NKJV
I welcome you to comment on your experience of identifying with the prophet’s pain. You are welcome to tell your own story if you feel free. If you are stuck in a similar place and wish for prayer, please feel free to post a prayer request, too.
In the love of Yeshua,
Pastora Cate and friends