The Saddest Chapter In The Book
Read Lamentations 3:21-26 (NIV)
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.
How has God proven faithful to you even in the midst of suffering?
Last week, we examined the book of Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet.” With great compassion, many tears, and at great personal cost, Jeremiah faithfully warned the people of Judah to repent and turn back to the Lord. He told them that God had promised to send the Babylonians to punish their nation. He did this for 40 years despite facing serious opposition. Sadly, the people ignored him and persisted in their idolatry, immorality, and apostasy. The great holy city of Jerusalem fell to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in approximately 586 B.C. Just as God had told Jeremiah and just as Jeremiah had warned the people.
But Jeremiah didn’t rejoice in their suffering or gloat over their punishment. During his ministry, the priests and leaders of Israel beat him, arrested him, imprisoned him, threw him into a cistern, and threatened to kill him. At some point, I’d want to just wash my hands of these people and let them experience their just deserts! But Jeremiah never stopped pleading with them to repent. When the city was sacked, he had every right to say “I told you so!” But he grieved instead.
The book of Lamentations is his expression of that grief. Lamentations is written as a funeral dirge. Unfortunately, the creative organization of the poem is lost in translation. In the original Hebrew, it is easily identified as an acrostic poem. Each chapter starts with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and each verse starts with the next letter and so on. The major theme of the dirge is overwhelming grief and horror at the utter destruction of the holy city and the temple of the Lord, and the brutal suffering of God’s chosen people.
And yet, even the judgment that befell them proved that God keeps His promises. The people had long been warned to repent. God was more than patient with them and gave them plenty of time to heed the warnings of multiple prophets. God promised that if they obeyed Him and worshiped Him alone, He would bless them in the land, protect, and prosper them (Exodus 19-24). He rescued them countless times over the course of their history! God had made a covenant with them, but they did not keep their end of it. They repeatedly forsake Him.
In Lamentations 1:18 (ESV), Jeremiah pointed out that “the LORD is in the right” because the people “rebelled against his word.” In Lamentations 2:17, Jeremiah states, “The LORD has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word, which he commanded long ago; he has thrown down without pity; he has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes.” In other words, God had every right to do what He did and the people shouldn’t be surprised that judgment finally came upon them.
So is there any hope in such a sad book of the Bible? Is there any indication of Christ and the Scarlet Thread in this lament? Yes, of course! Many theologians view Jeremiah as a type of Christ because he, like Christ, was a man of many sorrows and griefs. He was tormented, mocked, scorned, and hated by those he came to serve. Like Jeremiah, Jesus lamented over Jerusalem when He prophesied the second destruction of Jerusalem that would occur in 70 A.D. (Matthew 23:37-24:2.
Friends, even in the midst of such a sad chapter in the history of God’s people, Jeremiah found hope in the faithfulness of God. We read in today’s verses that even in his bitter suffering and struggles, Jeremiah reminded himself of the Lord’s goodness. He knew that God is faithful. He knew that those who put their hope in Him and seek to serve Him faithfully will eventually be delivered. He trusted that God would still keep His promises to His people. He knew that God would never cease to rule: “But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations” (Lamentations 5:19). If you are going through a time of suffering, remember the goodness of God. His faithfulness is great and His compassion never fails.
Lord, great is Your faithfulness to me. You have every right to punish me for my sins against You and yet, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, You have offered me salvation. I know that even in my suffering, You are good. Thank You for Your mercy, grace, and compassion. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
If you found value in this post, please share your comments, questions, and prayers with us!