The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word]. (Lamentations 3:25, AMPC)
Review of Parts One through Five. The afflictions Jeremiah saw “under the rod of God’s wrath” were so terrible that he was weak and had lost all hope. Remembering all the past troubles made Jeremiah sad BUT recalling God’s mercy and loving kindness gives Jeremiah hope. Because of that hope, Jeremiah’s heart chooses God; THEREFORE, he has hope and he will wait. Life in our present world requires like precious hope. Such hope comes from dwelling on and believing Truth! God promises to be good to us when we search diligently for Him in our times of need. We can know with confidence that our true needs will be met, because the Word says so.
In Part Five, we saw that it is good to hope and wait quietly with confident expectation for God’s salvation, for His safety and ease, and it is also good to readily and meekly submit to God’s discipline BECAUSE God will not abandon us forever BECAUSE even though He does cause grief yet He will be compassionate without measure BECAUSE He does not enjoy hurting people or sending sorrow. In Part Six, Lamentations 3:37-48 remind us of God’s sovereignty.
Outline of Part Six.
- God is THE Supreme Power.
- Is God really in control? of everything?
- God IS sovereign – verses 37-39
- Let us examine ourselves
- Let us pray
- HE STILL REIGNS!!!
God is THE Supreme Power. Take time now to read Lamentations3:37-48 and listen to what God says to you.
Verses 37-48 tell me that, because God is sovereign, when we are in affliction we must examine ourselves and submit to Him. God sends evil as well as good and man must not get discouraged or complain when our own sin is punished or the sins of others or the world. Rather, we must examine ourself and pray and return to God. We should pray to God, on our own behalf when we have sinned or, like Jeremiah, on the behalf of others, saying:
We have transgressed and rebelled and You have not pardoned. You have covered Yourself with wrath and pursued and afflicted us; You have slain without pity. (verse 42-43)
The love of God in Jeremiah moved him to feel compassion for Israel and to identify with sinful Israel. God moved through Jeremiah’s love to give correction and encouragement to His people. He can do the same through us today. We can intercede for others, and God may give us a message for them. The gifts of Holy Spirit are in operation today!
Is God really in control? of everything? I carefully carried my coffee from the kitchen to the bedroom and placed the chipped mug at the back corner of the desk, the same desk I had used as a child and which my parents had given me after the divorce. After glancing out the window at my daughter and her friend playing in the sheltered center of our apartment complex, I resumed reading the book of Job where I had stopped yesterday. A new believer, I was working my way through reading the Bible, carving out thirty minutes each evening while my daughter played in the long afternoon hours of early autumn in Florida. Every other waking moment was spent working or else focused on her, except for the hour or so before she woke when I had Bible study and prayer.
My eyes stayed wide open as I read the first two Chapters of Job. “Wow, Father!” I remember thinking. “You say clearly that You really are in absolute control of Satan! What a relief!” That question, which had arisen in Sunday School the previous week, had troubled me for days. But the truth of God’s Word planted in my heart that long ago evening, sitting alone with God, bore the fruit of peace immediately and has done so ever since, for more than four decades.
I pray that if you doubt this truth you will take time to study and meditate on God’s truths about His sovereignty until it is engraved on your heart. Certainty that God is sovereign and that He is working all things out for our good will keep us in His peace, even in the midst of dark afflictions, trials and distresses like Jeremiah speaks of in Lamentations.
God IS sovereign–verses 37-39. Reread verses 37 and 39 of Lamentations 3. With his questions, Jeremiah is stressing that God is the king of Kings and lord of Lords (Revelations 19:6). Jeremiah says “Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? (NLT) May we, like Jeremiah, keep in mind that God is sovereign in all affairs of men. Both Old and New Testaments verses clearly proclaim that God is Ruler of “all that was and is and is to come” as John declares in his prologue to Revelations. Just read Job 1:1 to 2:7, as I did years ago, and be grateful that God lets us see the truth of the matter. And consider Colossians 1:16-17.
“For in Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rules or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
In the NLT, the little word “then” connects Lamentations 3: 38 with verse 39. After proclaiming that God is sovereign, Jeremiah says “Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?” There again is that attitude of appropriate humility before God.
The amplifying phrases in the AMPC show that sometimes our afflictions are part of God’s loving discipline and sometimes they are punishment for our sin.
“Why does a living man sigh [one who is still in this life’s school of discipline]? [And why does] a man complain for the punishment of his sins?” (AMPC)
Let us examine ourselves–verses 40-41. Instead of complaining, Jeremiah urges us to examine ourselves and turn back to God. Notice the implication that if we have been complaining, we have turned from God. God lovingly instructs His children to examine themselves in Psalm 119:59-60, 2 Corinthians 13:5, and James 1:22-24. We are to test ourselves, or ask ourselves questions about, our walk with God. Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Helper, and He will speak to us and teach us (John 14.) God says we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Let us pray—verses 42-48. Read verses 42 through 48. Sounds like the last two years does it not? And how is Jeremiah affected as he thinks about his beloved people and city? Jeremiah is deeply moved, and in verse 48 he says “My eyes overflow with streams of tears because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.” We, too, must be moved to deep compassion because of the affliction of others, our nation and our world, not only because of our own afflictions.
In poetic language, Jeremiah says “Let us lift up our hearts and our hands [and then with them mount up in prayer] to God in heaven.” (verse 41, AMPC) Prayer is one of the most, if not the most, uplifting activities available to man. We have one heart and one mind. We can either let our soul and spirit stay mired in the clay of this earth or we can, like the eagle, mount up with spiritual wings to our Most High and awesome God.
And how are we who are in the midst of affliction to pray? We are to pour out our hearts about the situation, being honest because we are talking to our Best Friend and our loving and perfect Father. God despises complaining and made complaining, unbelieving Israel wander in the desert for forty years until all those who doubted and complained had died. However, God urges us over and over to talk with Him, to reason with Him, to pour out our hearts to Him. I know clearly when I am complaining and when I am casting my cares on Him. I feel separated from God when I complain but when I just talk with Him, sharing my thoughts about my life and talking things over with Him, ah!
HE STILL REIGNS!!! We are indeed to be people of compassionate, prevailing prayer but it is essential, in times of affliction, to read about and ponder the magnificence of God. This helps keep us in peace. I still remember, from all those long years ago, the thrill I felt when I first read the last few chapters of Job, where God teaches about His wonders in nature. Job 36:24-26a says, let us “remember to extol His work, which men have praised in song. All mankind has seen it; men gaze on it from afar. How great is God—beyond our understanding!”
The last chapters of Job show us that God commands clouds, storms and lightning, He laid the foundations of the earth, gives orders to the morning, sets the borders of the sea, stores up snow and hail, leads out the constellations in their season, watches when mountain goats and the deer give birth, gives the horse his strength, tells the eagles when to soar and controls the great creatures of the deep. Read these chapters and know with me that:
The One who commands the eagles to soar
love you forever, forevermore.
Therefore, take heart! Be strong in your trust,
for the One Who has made you
is mindful you’re dust.
Yes, He knows your frame,
knows just how you’re made,
and He longs that you know
your price has been paid.
Through Jesus, we have power to live a joyful life of peace even in the midst of affliction. Ponder the power of God and worship Him with reverence and awe. Let His presence fill you with His peace, yes, even in the midst of the furnace of affliction! He is the Fourth man in the furnace – yesterday, today, and forever! He does not change!
In Part Seven, we will see that Jeremiah is moved to pray without ceasing until God “looks down and sees from heaven.” (v. 50)