I have been reading the book of Lamentations and I’ve found myself lingering on Chapter 3.
I’d like to share a devotion from last week, based on verses 31-33, 49-50
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
49 My eyes will flow unceasingly,
50 until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
The book of Lamentations is an Old Testament book attributed to Prophet Jeremiah. It expresses the overwhelming loss and sadness over the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the exile of God’s people.
The people of Israel had hardened their hearts and turned away from God, Lamentations depicts the judgment of God on the people.
I don’t like God’s wrath
To be honest, I don’t like reading about the wrath and judgment of God. As I read this book, I am floored by the breadth, dimension and intensity of His judgement.
Just in Chapter 3
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
1I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
Get this; the destruction is not happening by happenstance. The destroyer has been purposely sent by God, as punishment for unrepentant sin and hardened hearts.
We don’t like to fear
Last week I watched a video by Francis Chan (you can watch it here) and he talked about the fear of God. In our world today we talk about the fear of God as an awe, or respect or honor. But the word “fear”, in it’s original meaning means exactly that…fear. It is derived from original Hebrew words meaning “terror,” or “dread.”
Francis Chan gave an example of people who came to face with God and their response to His presence.
For example, John the author of Revelations.
Revelations 1:17 records
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. (John 1)
John wasn’t merely in awe, or in respectful honor of God. He fell at His feet “as though dead”.
I am in a season of remembering this side of God – the fiercely Holy, in whose Presence mortal frame cannot stand, who punishes sin.
I drift and forget God’s majesty. I start to ask foolish questions like “Why does God deserve ALL the glory?” Nothing wrong with questions that lead to study and understanding. But there’s everything horribly wrong when your awe of God has been dulled by pride and sin.
Fear leads to repentance
In the opening verses above (31-33), the Author (likely Jeremiah) is speaking over the broken city. That though God has punished them, He will remember them because of His unfailing love. God does not desire to bring affliction or grief to anyone. He does not punish from His heart.
Verses 49 – 50 record Jeremiah’s unceasing grief until the Lord answers; till He looks down from heaven and becomes aware of the situation of the people, in compassion, not in wrath.
I don’t know what you are going through in your marriage (or life in general) or what caused it. Maybe you didn’t even sleep last night, so heavy is your grief and pain. Maybe God feels far and your life is in turmoil, filled with condemnation and guilt.
After John fell at the feet of Jesus in terror, the next verse records how Jesus touched him and said “do not fear”.
We must have a real holy fear for God but it’s sole goal is to drive us to a correct understanding of who He is so we may revile sin and repent.
Regardless of where you are today, there is hope! You may feel cast off, but there’s still hope! Imagine how the Israelites felt! But Jeremiah knew that seasons of pain and grief never last forever.
I pray that as we learn of His majesty, who He is and the awful consequences of sin and being separated from Him, we shall not harden our hearts. Rather we shall listen to His instructions and mend our ways and come into close relationship again.
I don’t enjoy the fierce side of God. I am pretty glad that’s not where God wants us to dwell either. The Bible says “the fear of God is the begining of wisdom” (make sure you watch Francis Chan video).
So my prayer has been ; “O Lord, Like Jeremiah, may I remember that there’s always hope as I encounter hard seasons. May intercession and hope never cease pouring from my lips as I wait for you”
Ponder – Which area of your life needs a fresh awareness of the majesty of God? Are there areas in your marriage that pride and self-centeredness has taken over, where your eyes and heart have been dulled?