Summary: A message from a series from the book of Lamentations
Grieving is the natural result of us experiencing some type of loss. Well meaning people often say, “I know what you’re going through.” The problem is that it is truly impossible for any human being to know exactly what we’re going through. The reason lies in the fact that grief is a unique personal experience and differs from person to person. During these times of sorrow and grief it is completely normal and necessary for us to take some time to focus on ourselves and our pain. There’s a fine line here if the inward focus continues too long we run the risk of losing our perspective and hope. During these times questions flood our minds to which there are no easy answers. “Where is God in all of this? “Does He abandon us when we fall on bad times?” Listen to the words of the great Christian author CS Lewis following the death of his wife due to cancer: “When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be or so it seems, welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away.” How many of us can identify with Lewis’ feelings. However, if what we read in the Bible is true about God, then He is infinitely good and loving and He will never leave us high and dry. Even His discipline as unpleasant as it is works to make us into the person He desires us to be. God truly is never short on compassion. Jeremiah remembered the unfailing love of God while he was struggling with feelings of abandonment, humiliation, oppression and bitterness. What Jeremiah learns from God in his time of darkness can provide us with hope and encouragement during times of sorrow and pain in our own lives. Even when those times have come as a result of our own rebellion against God.
I. Jeremiah understood what it meant to be broken by affliction.
A. Jeremiah had suffered along with his people. He affirmed, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.”
1. The Hebrew term used here is a word that can be literally translated as club, inferring that this was a weapon God used against Judah in judgment.
2. The actual inflicting of the wounds was done by humans, but they were simply acting on the Lord’s behalf.
3. He compared his experience to darkness, being smitten repeatedly, and the frailties of old age.
4. He likened himself to a city under siege, a dead man in eternal darkness, a prisoner, and a traveler forced to walk uncharted detours.
5. Jeremiah’s hopelessness reaches its climax when he says that he has lost his peace, or the sense of well-being that should have been the mark of a healthy relationship between God and his people.
B. Jeremiah felt as though God had built a wall around him and bound him with heavy chains to make sure there was no escape from his affliction.
1. Like a prisoner in a dungeon, his cries to God went unanswered. Like people seeking their way out of a maze, whatever direction they turned for relief was blocked.
2. One of life’s darkest moments is to experience the absence of God and have one’s prayers seem to go unanswered.
3. God is now compared to a wild beast that has pounced on his victim and is tearing him apart. Judah had been dismembered by its conquerors and was their helpless prey. God had not only cut off all avenues of escape but was actively pursuing his victim to bring about its total destruction.
4. The prophet was overwhelmed by the disaster. He had lost all inner peace. He had forgotten what prosperity meant. His confidence in Yahweh had been shaken.
II. Jeremiah was encouraged by God’s compassion.
A. Jeremiah’s prayer reflects a great deal of humility.
1. The sufferings were so deeply impressed in the heart of the victim that he found himself constantly thinking about them.
2. His “short-term memory” fixes his thoughts on his present sufferings. He seems incapable of thinking of anything else.
3. Jeremiah’s outlook on the situation is so bleak, his hope has been drained away and all his pride is gone.
4. Jeremiah is filled with remorse and a sense of total dependence upon God.
B. The very mention of the precious name of God helped Jeremiah regain a solid footing for his faith.