Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lamentations, Poetic Pain

Lamentations is only 5 chapters long, but the imagery in those chapters is brutal. Restlessness, women boiling and eating their children, bones breaking and flesh rotting, crying so much that bile pours out of his mouth, children dying of hunger, fainting babies and it goes on and on. What despair!! All these consequences because warning after warning came from Jeremiah and the people did not heed! Jeremiah warned the people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways. To stop the idolatry, the prostitution, the filthy and abominable sins they were committing; but they didn't. And because they didn't take Jeremiah seriously it was as if they were not taking God seriously. Lamentations is a small book of graphic imagery of the harvest Israel has reaped. In the middle of the book the prophet does speak of the hope of God's faithfulness and mercy. And eventually it does come, but the present state of Israel is haunting. In the midst of all this horror Jeremiah knows the punishment is just (1:18) and that God is in the right to bring this turmoil on His people.

But even when all seems lost these verses appear to comfort:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are
new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (3:22-23)

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not
afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men (3:31-33

After this moment of reprieve from the devastation Jeremiah again begins to speak of how the people of Israel have behaved and he explains why they suffer so much.

The book ends reminding us who is on the Throne and who truly is in control (5:19). And the last verses hope for restoration.

To the Christian: In the middle of our pain or our trial - regardless if it is the Lord disciplining us or refining us - we do have hope. We also have no other option but to trust His Sovereignty and His wisdom in using our circumstance for our good. He is a good Father. He is merciful. He is compassionate, even if our eyes are swollen from too many tears or if our throat is raw from crying in despair. Child of God, do you not know that He sent His Son to die for you, to pay the debt you could not pay, even though there was nothing in you that pleased Him? We are bound to spend eternity with Him, and these trials will come to an end one day. And there will be no more tears, or cries of despair. None. Death will be swallowed up. We have that hope. And in the end if that is all we have, then it is more than enough.

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