Lamentations is a book in the Bible written by the prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah wrote the beautiful words, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) He wrote those words when the children of Israel were in exile for 70 years. So he was giving them a promise of hope while they were in a dark and dreary place.
The Book of Lamentations was written after he had already not only predicted the desolation of Judah and Jerusalem, but he had told the history of what happened proving his predictions had come true.
Lamentations is Jeremiah’s expressions of sorrow for his country. What is interesting about Jeremiah, who by the way was known as the “weeping prophet” and he was known as a poet, is that his country had been very unkind to him, they had prosecuted him for being a false prophet! He could have been bitter, OFFENDED, and even a little pleased when everything he had predicted had come true.
The entire Book of Lamentations is worth reading. Jeremiah contrasts the former blessings and strengths of Judah with the chaos and suffering their sin had brought on them. They had lost everything and were in a hopeless position – everything of significance had been destroyed.
Have you ever felt like that?
In these chapters he is encouraging the people to come to a place of submission, of humbling themselves before God to think about what they have done.
This is a great thing for us to do too. Sometimes we just need to stop and think about what we are doing or how we are behaving or look at how we have tried to “handle things on our own.”
When we are going through a tough time, when things are not going our way, that is a perfect time to get on our knees and go before the LORD, and tell Him everything. Confess, petition, describe and pour out your heart before Him. That is what He wants of us!
And that is what Jeremiah is doing in the first two chapters of Lamentations. He talks about how the nation used to be great and a princess but is now a slave. He talks about how God had stopped speaking to His people through the Law or through prophets because the people would not listen.
Then at the end of chapter two, he tells the people to “Arise and cry out in the night…pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord…lift up your hands toward Him”…they knew that God was a God who brings restoration if they repented. We must know that about God too! Remember we read His word so we will know His character. The same goes for us!
Now we come to the hope!
Lamentations 3: 20-21:
Jeremiah had almost given up hope, “My soul still remembers and sinks within me.”
Have you been there…you get right to the edge? If so, then you must remember!
Verse 21: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope!”
This is KEY! We always have hope!
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says: “Here the clouds begin to disperse and the sky to clear up…but for hope, the heart would break. To save the heart from being quite broken, here is something called to mind which gives ground for hope.”
He recalled something…something came to his mind. So when it is you, and you are alone and struggling, or worrying or fretting or wondering HOW to go on…REMEMBER! RECALL in your mind what Jeremiah recalled!
“Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in HIM!’”
The Bible tells us: We are persecuted, but not forsaken by God, we are cast down but not destroyed, corrected but not consumed.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says: “Mercies is plural showing the abundance and variety of those mercies. God is an inexhaustible fountain of mercy, the Father of mercies.”
The note on this passage in the New Spirit Filled Life Bible says: “It is striking that Jeremiah consoles himself with God’s mercy, even as he gazes on the rubble of a nation under divine judgment. (2 Chronicles 26: 15-21)
There is stark irony here, when he says ‘God’s mercies are new every morning. The word for mercy may be the most essential word in the OT describing God’s character to us. It incorporates:
His covenant of compassion…which is expressed in
His consuming commitment…to bring us into
His everlasting communion…with us.
Mercy describes the Father’s acute emotional yearning for a wayward people. In noting how God’s mercies are new every morning, this text suggests we need His mercies more often than we may think, whether we feel weak or strong.”
If you don’t get anything else from this devotion, I pray that you will get this:
“God’s mercy is His compassion toward us even when we deserve punishment, His commitment to restore us even though we deserve to endure the consequences of our sin, and His covenant of love expressed at the point of our greatest foolishness.”
I don’t know about you, but this is really encouraging for me. However, this is easier said than done!
We, as women, and I am sure men do this too, but I think this is especially true of women…we CONDEMN ourselves. We are so hard on ourselves. We constantly look around whether it is as a mother or a wife or a friend, and of course it is not hard to find the woman who always does it better and then we just start beating ourselves up.
Often times, I go to bed and think about what I did wrong that day or what I did NOT get accomplished or how, once again, I came up short! Sometimes it is just as a Christian…I say to myself, ‘you sure weren’t too Christian when you said that or thought this or cussed! And so on and so on.’
Do you know how happy I am when I wake up and realize…there He is again? His mercy, His unfailing love, His promises are RIGHT there brand new…I can start all over again!
The truth is, our inheritance that we have in God can never be taken away, so let’s keep our hope in HIM!
Not only that, but let us all, hope expectantly and quietly!
Verses 25 and 26:
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly, for the salvation of the LORD.”
Our tough times, our deep trials even our discipline from the LORD will not last forever even though at times it may feel like it will.
Notice this…and I had not noticed it before I prepared this study.
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says:
“While trouble is prolonged, and deliverance is deferred, we must wait patiently for God and His gracious returns to us.”
Here is the kicker:
“WHILE WE WAIT for Him BY FAITH, we must seek Him by prayer: our souls must seek Him! Our seeking will help to keep up our waiting. And to those who wait and seek God while they wait, God will be gracious, He will show them His marvelous loving-kindness.” It will not be in vain to trust Him and to wait for Him.
Once again, going through a tough time is a perfect time to just get alone, by ourselves humbly and think about what is going on or what we have done or not done…. That is what Jeremiah says to do as well.
“Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him; Let him put his mouth in the dust – there may yet be hope. Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, and be full of reproach. For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion, According to the multitude of His mercies.”
Sometimes we are humbled, and that is not a bad thing! “Let him put his mouth in the dust” – that means submitting yourself, and “Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him” – that means surrendering yourself.
So sometimes we just have to embrace these tough times. We can learn from them and grow and get stronger! Remember God gives grace to the humble!
James 4: 6-10
“Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
I LOVE THIS!!! Again, I never noticed this before, but it is a great reminder!
The note on this verse says, “Being alive is an indication that God has shown mercy!
“I called on Your name, O LORD, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice: ‘Do not hide Your ear from my sighing, from my cry for help.’ You drew near on the day I called on You, and said, ‘Do NOT FEAR.’”
God’s tender love and compassion will follow times of sorrow. Here, Jeremiah was experiencing times of deep sorry and discouragement. However, from that lowest, deepest pit he called on the name of the LORD. Call on God’s name, His character, His authority and His faithfulness. Believe that God hears your voice. He is with you. Hear Him say to you,