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 Six: 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 e 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.
We can, like Jeremiah, wait with hope and expectation of God’s goodness if we seek Him as He says to seek Him and if we know the power of the right of our need and the authority of His Word. It is good to readily submit to the Father’s discipline because He lays the “yoke of divine disciplinary dealings” upon us for our ultimate good and, though He does cause grief, He will “be moved according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy. (Lamentations 3:32, AMPC)
In Part Six, we saw that because God is sovereign, we must not complain but rather examine ourselves and pray. In Lamentations 3, God teaches us a godly attitude toward affliction, whether that affliction comes because of God’s loving discipline, our own sin, the sin of the people with whom we are connected or our nation and world.
Outline of Part Seven. Lamentations 3:49-66 shows us that we can, like Jeremiah in the midst of great affliction, be confident that God will manage our affairs, protect us and our rights and rescue and redeem our life. (Lamentations 3:58)
- Weeping until God sees
- Recalling past afflictions
- Recalling God’s faithfulness
- The light of seeing what God has done for us
- God HAS seen the wrongs
- I know You will answer, O God
- Am I a channel for God?
Weeping until God sees–verses 49-51. Jeremiah is weeping and says he will keep weeping until God answers. He says “My eyes overflow continually and will not cease until the Lord looks down and sees from heaven.” (Lamentations 3:50, AMPC)
God has moved on Jeremiah’s heart to do just what Jesus would teach His followers hundreds of years later. In Luke 11, when Jesus’s disciplines asked Him to teach them to pray, He began with what is now known as the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:2-4). Jesus then continued teaching them how to pray with the parable of the man who at midnight asks a friend for three loaves of bread because he has nothing to give his guest who has just arrived at his house. The friend replies at first, saying “Do not disturb me; the door is now closed, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and supply you with what you [with anything]” (verse 7). Jesus emphasized that the man in bed would get up and give his friend as much as he needed not because of the friendship, but “because of his shameless persistence and insistence.”
To reinforce this idea, Jesus continues with the well-known ask, seek, and knock passage. The KJV, ESV and NASB use the words ask, seek, and knock, but it is instructive to me that the AMPC and NLT use say keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.
(9) So, I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.
(10) For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking the door shall be opened to you.”
I think it is an indication that Christ is being formed more fully in us (Galations 4:19) when we pray for more than just ourselves and those we know and when we persist in prayer, as Jesus told His disciples to do and as Jeremiah did. For more about persistence in prayer see Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18, and 1 Chronicles 16:11 – and pray persistently!
Recalling past afflictions–verses 52-54. Halley (p 410) observes that it is difficult to specify the subject of each chapter of Lamentations. “The same ideas, in different wording, run through all the chapters, the horrors of the siege and the desolate ruins, all due to Zion’s sins.” (Halley’s Bible Commentary, p. 410). After resolving to pray until God hears, Jeremiah’s thoughts seem to turn inward as he recalls the time his enemies tried to destroy him by putting him into a pit. Read Jeremiah 38:1-13 and see how God delivered him that time.
Recalling God’s faithfulness—verses 55-57. But Jeremiah is not just recalling a time of great personal affliction – he is also recalling how God heard and rescued him during that affliction, when he was literally in a cistern. Jeremiah recalls that when he called on the name of the Lord, God drew near, delivered him, and calmed his fears. Jeremiah says:
(55) “I called upon your name, O Lord, out of the depths [of the mire] of the dungeon.
(56) You heard my voice [then]; [Oh] hide not Your ear [now] at my prayer for relief.
(57) You drew near on the day I called to You; You said, ‘Fear not.
Everyone who fears the Lord and hopes in his unfailing love (Psalm 33:18) can recall similar instances of God’s deliverances, times when He made a way through the Red Sea of impossibility, sent ravens of supply, shut the lion’s mouth of unjust accusation, walked beside us in the fire and illumined dark valleys with the light of His Word and His presence.
We who walk with God are a blessed people. We can, like the psalmist Asaph enter the sanctuary of praise (Psalm 73:17) and perceive God’s ways and be encouraged that, even though we foolishly get bitter at times, we still belong to God and He holds our hand and guides us (v. 21-24). When we enter the sanctuary of God’s presence, then we can say to God:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” (v. 25-26)
The light of seeing what God has done for us– verse 58. When we step back and gain God’s perspective on affliction, when we recall His previous works as Jeremiah did (and as Psalm 105-107 teach us to do), we can see how good God has been. We can say:
“Oh Lord, You have pleaded the causes of my soul [You have managed my affairs and You have protected me person and my rights]; You have rescued and redeemed my life! (Lamentations 3:58, AMPC)
As long as our mind is focused on misery, our own or others, we keep ourselves chained in the darkness of sorrow. But when we do as God says and fix our eyes on Jesus (Colossians 1), when we think on good things (Philippians 4), when we re-affirm and declare out loud our praise for God and our trust in Him–this mighty One Who never, no never, no never forsakes us—then we are free from the darkness.
When we step into the light of truth, when we enter the house of praise, then we see our life and the circumstances of and surrounding our life accurately. Then we see that, even though previous times were hard, God was there and He was working all things out. The one who focuses on external things is never satisfied, but “to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7, KJV)
When our heart is right toward God, when we “find wisdom and gain understanding (Proverbs 3) ah! Then we have treasure “more precious than rubies””! We have the treasure of His presence and the treasure of seeing things from the viewpoint of His wisdom. Then, along with Jeremiah, we recall all God has done for us in previous times of affliction. Then, we have strength to continue praying, as Jeremiah did, with confident expectation.
God HAS seen the wrongs—verses 59-64. In verses 59-64 Jeremiah continues his conversation with God. He says to God,
(59) You have seen the wrong they have done to me, Lord. Be my judge, and prove me right.
(60 You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me.
(61) Lord, your have heard the vile names they call me. You know all about the plans they have made.
(62) My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long.
(63) Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs.
Jeremiah had been attacked by the evil people of his day, those evil ones in his own country and city, because of his messages from God. Yet, “Through all this God protected Jeremiah so he could continue to warn the wicked and comfort those who trusted in God” (Introduction to Jeremiah, NIV Bible, page 654).
Evil kings and people living in wickedness and rebellion hated the corrections and warnings of coming judgement given by God’s Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament prophets lived in a period when God’s people had long worshipped idols and, because they refused to heed God’s constant warnings, then reaped what they had sown. They were enslaved by their own sin and taken captive, just as we are enslaved when we choose to obey Satan. The Word clearly says: “Don’t you realize that you become the salve of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave o sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16, NLT)
Are we not in the same situation in America? And may we not be in places of personal affliction because God is either convicting us or else guiding us to higher, safer ground?
What is our appropriate response? Regarding affliction caused by our sin or God’s guiding, it is of course to repent and turn toward God. Regarding affliction caused by the sin of our nation and world, it is to pray for our enemies and the enemies of our God, but–if they do not repent—to cry out to God for justice, as Jeremiah did.
I know You will answer, O God!–verses 64-66. Jeremiah cried to the Lord for justice upon the wicked who opposed God. He said:
(64) Render to them a recompense, O lord, according to the work of their hands.”
(65) You will give them hardness and blindness of heart; Your curse will be upon them.
(66) You will pursue and afflict them in anger and destroy them from under Your heavens, O Lord.”
Jeremiah pleaded for justice and he expressed his confidence that God would indeed bring justice. Jeremiah had given similar messages his entire life. So had the prophets who preceded him and who lived in the same time period he did.
Am I a channel for God? Let us, like God’s prophets of old, be a channel for God’s mercy and reach out to others by speaking the truth in love, in the hopes that God may, through us “by every possible means, save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) As we do so, let us be aware that it will sometimes mean suffering because of our beliefs. We know that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil doers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13-14, NIV)
Beloved, we are living in the days of the third chapter of 2 Timothy 3. We must be about our Father’s business – all day, every day!
Let us cry out that our loved ones, our neighbors, our churches, and our nation will repent and learn to “hate evil, love good; (and) maintain justice in the courts.” (Amos 5:15) And we must intercede for the Body of Christ and our world. Intercessors for America is a rich source of information on how and what to pray for. See https://ifapray.org.
Father, while we wait in time of affliction, be it personal, national or world-wide, may we be in the company of those who “know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy]” so that we may lean on and confidently put our trust in You, for we know that “You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You on the authority of Your word and the right that our necessity gives us. (Psalm 9:10, AMPC)
We see, Lord, how you are exposing evil everywhere and we rejoice that revival is even now breaking out across America and Your world. We say, “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24, NIV)
Beloved, our Mighty Father, the God of angel armies, has already released a niagara of justice on the evil of our world. Stand firm in your faith and be confident in the God Who created you and Who loves you with unfathomable, undying passion. You will see the salvation your God is bringing about for you! (Exodus 14:13)