In The Word
Read: Lamentations 3
Jeremiah Shares Israel’s Misery
3 I am the man who has seen misery
Because of the rod of His wrath.
2 He has driven me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
3 Indeed, He has turned His hand against me
Repeatedly all the day.
4 He has consumed my flesh and my skin,
He has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me live in dark places,
Like those who have long been dead.
7 He has walled me in so that I cannot go out;
He has made my chain heavy.
8 Even when I cry out and call for help,
He shuts out my prayer.
9 He has blocked my ways with cut stone;
He has twisted my paths.
10 He is to me like a bear lying in wait,
Like a lion in secret places.
11 He has made my ways deviate, and torn me to pieces;
He has made me desolate.
12 He bent His bow
And took aim at me as a target for the arrow.
13 He made the arrows of His quiver
Enter my inward parts.
14 I have become a laughingstock to all my people,
Their song of ridicule all the day.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
He has made me drink plenty of wormwood.
16 He has also made my teeth grind with gravel;
He has made me cower in the dust.
17 My soul has been excluded from peace;
I have forgotten happiness.
18 So I say, “My strength has failed,
And so has my hope from the Lord.”
Hope of Relief in God’s Mercy
19 Remember my misery and my homelessness, the wormwood and bitterness.
20 My soul certainly remembers,
And is bent over within me.
21 I recall this to my mind,
Therefore I wait.
22 The Lord’s acts of mercy indeed do not end,
For His compassions do not fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I wait for Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who await Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
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 quiet,
Since He has laid it on him.
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust;
Perhaps there is hope.
30 Let him give his cheek to the one who is going to strike him;
Let him be filled with shame.
31 For the Lord will not reject forever,
32 For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
In proportion to His abundant mercy.
33 For He does not afflict willingly
Or grieve the sons of mankind.
34 To crush under one’s feet
All the prisoners of the land,
35 To deprive a man of justice
In the presence of the Most High,
36 To defraud someone in his lawsuit—
Of these things the Lord does not approve.
37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,
Unless the Lord has commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That both adversity and good proceed?
39 Of what can any living mortal, or any man,
Complain in view of his sins?
40 Let’s examine and search out our ways,
And let’s return to the Lord.
41 We raise our heart and hands
Toward God in heaven;
42 We have done wrong and rebelled;
You have not pardoned.
43 You have covered Yourself with anger
And pursued us;
You have slain and have not spared.
44 You have veiled Yourself with a cloud
So that no prayer can pass through.
45 You have made us mere refuse and rubbish
In the midst of the peoples.
46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us.
47 Panic and pitfall have come upon us,
Devastation and destruction;
48 My eyes run down with streams of water
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
49 My eyes flow unceasingly,
50 Until the Lord looks down
And sees from heaven.
51 My eyes bring pain to my soul
Because of all the daughters of my city.
52 My enemies without reason
Hunted me down like a bird;
53 They have silenced me in the pit
And have thrown stones on me.
54 Waters flowed over my head;
I said, “I am cut off!”
55 I called on Your name, Lord,
Out of the lowest pit.
56 You have heard my voice,
“Do not cover Your ear from my plea for relief,
From my cry for help.”
57 You came near on the day I called to You;
You said, “Do not fear!”
58 Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause;
You have redeemed my life.
59 Lord, You have seen my oppression;
Judge my case.
60 You have seen all their vengeance,
All their schemes against me.
61 You have heard their reproach, Lord,
All their schemes against me.
62 The lips of my assailants and their talk
Are against me all day long.
63 Look at their sitting and their rising;
I am their mocking song.
64 You will repay them, Lord,
In accordance with the work of their hands.
65 You will give them shamelessness of heart,
Your curse will be on them.
66 You will pursue them in anger and eliminate them
From under the heavens of the Lord!
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
Jeremiah suffered just like the people, even though he had not sinned but had obeyed God. Furthermore, Jeremiah’s calling from God was difficult because he delivered God’s convicting truth, truth that the people rejected and for which the political and religious leaders persecuted him.
Though Jeremiah did nothing to warrant the suffering he experienced, he refused to blame or reject God. He poured out his heart to God as he described his difficult condition, but he did not stay focused on his suffering. He knew that God was his answer, so he turned his mind and heart to Him and wrote this wonderful scripture that is often used by people in difficult circumstances: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him (Lamentations 3:22–24).”
Trouble and suffering are part of this life, even if you do not create it by your actions, because you live in a fallen world filled with sinners and the devil. You can choose to dwell on this difficult reality, and even blame God, which will take you deeper into a pit of despair. Or, you can face your reality, but refuse to let it affect your attitude by staying full of the joy of the Lord, which will give you strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Which will you choose? To focus your mind on the difficulty, or on God? Find God and find strength and peace!