In The Word
Read: Lamentations 3
Jeremiah Shares Israel’s Affliction
3 I am the man who has seen affliction
Because of the rod of His wrath.
2 He has driven me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
3 Surely against me He has turned His hand
Repeatedly all the day.
4 He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away,
He has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship.
6 In dark places He has made me dwell,
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 hewn stone;
He has made my paths crooked.
10 He is to me like a bear lying in wait,
Like a lion in secret places.
11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces;
He has made me desolate.
12 He bent His bow
And set me as a target for the arrow.
13 He made the arrows of His quiver
To enter into my inward parts.
14 I have become a laughingstock to all my people,
Their mocking song all the day.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
He has made me drunk with wormwood.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
He has made me cower in the dust.
17 My soul has been rejected from peace;
I have forgotten happiness.
18 So I say, “My strength has perished,
And so has my hope from the Lord.”
Hope of Relief in God’s Mercy
19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
20 Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for 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 that he should bear
The yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and be silent
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 smiter,
Let him be filled with reproach.
31 For the Lord will not reject forever,
32 For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness.
33 For He does not afflict willingly
Or grieve the sons of men.
34 To crush under His feet
All the prisoners of the land,
35 To deprive a man of justice
In the presence of the Most High,
36 To defraud a man 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 good and ill go forth?
39 Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Offer complaint in view of his sins?
40 Let us examine and probe our ways,
And let us return to the Lord.
41 We lift up our heart and hands
Toward 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 have not spared.
44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud
So that no prayer can pass through.
45 You have made us mere offscouring and refuse
In the midst of the peoples.
46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us.
47 Panic and pitfall have befallen 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 pour down 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 cause
Hunted me down like a bird;
53 They have silenced me in the pit
And have placed a stone on me.
54 Waters flowed over my head;
I said, “I am cut off!”
55 I called on Your name, O Lord,
Out of the lowest pit.
56 You have heard my voice,
“Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief,
From my cry for help.”
57 You drew near when I called on You;
You said, “Do not fear!”
58 O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause;
You have redeemed my life.
59 O 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, O Lord,
All their schemes against me.
62 The lips of my assailants and their whispering
Are against me all day long.
63 Look on their sitting and their rising;
I am their mocking song.
64 You will recompense them, O Lord,
According to the work of their hands.
65 You will give them hardness of heart,
Your curse will be on them.
66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy 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 loving kindnesses 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!