The Marriage of Suffering and Hope
Day: 45 | Plan: Suffering and Sovereignty
Today’s Reading: Lamentations 3:1-39
Lamentations 3:21-22 (NIV) “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
There’s something about grief that feels wrong – improper. Often, we are uncomfortable with it in ourselves and certainly within other people. But it is a real part of our human experience. We grieve over suffering of all kind. We grieve over death. We grieve over sin. We grieve over pain. Everyone will grieve differently, but there is a way to suffer, grieve and wail that is purposeful and good.
Lamentations 3 opens with a personal grief – a personal lament. Although the suffering found in Jerusalem is shared, it is also deeply personal for Jeremiah. He was the last prophet to come to Jerusalem before its Babylonian siege. He had a front row seat to the terror of God’s punishment.
Jeremiah demonstrates for us a healthy expression of grief. He doesn’t shy away from the truth and bleakness of the situation, but faces it and speaks it out loud. (Lamentations 3:1-18) He names it, examines it and acknowledges his part in it. He confesses corporate and personal sin, but he also acknowledges God’s part and wrestles with God’s punishment. (Lamentations 3:1)
This wrestling isn’t necessarily bad (although it can be taken to a place of contention). It’s been part of God’s relationship with His creation for a long time. Jeremiah shows us how to wrestle well by focusing on the truth of the situation. This wrestling is an attempt to marry the tension between true grief and real hope, which can co-exist.
We can deeply grieve and still be fully confident in the hope of God. Jeremiah gives us an astonishing declaration of hope in Lamentations 3:19-26.
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Jeremiah has spent all this time reflecting on the reality of what is before him, but then we get to “yet” and “therefore.” Are there any two more beautiful words in Scripture? While still remembering his affliction, Jeremiah was able to call to mind the great love of God and therefore have real hope.
Jeremiah didn’t have hope in spite of Jerusalem’s destruction; he had hope because of it. He was able to see the faithfulness of a God who carried out what He said He would (Jeremiah 5:14-17), but who also promises restoration and compassion on His people. (Jeremiah 5:18; 33:6-16)
Jeremiah was right to have hope because he trusted a faithful God who delivered on His promise of a “righteous Branch sprout from David’s line” (Jeremiah 33:15). That righteous savior is our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Lord Father, thank You for not leaving us in a place of eternal despair. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn about You and wrestle with our own understanding of You. We ask for Your patience and wisdom while in this life. We love You so much. Thank You for the gift of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Lamentations 3 (as written in Hebrew) is a strict acrostic poem. This may seem like a... Read More
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