Lamentations

This devotional is written by Matt Windsor-Richards. A dad, devoted to his boys (on a good day) and his wife (on all days!) and as a self-employed actor musician on any days left over (currently digging holes and putting up fences during Covid mayhem).

 Lamentations 3

3 I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord's wrath. 2 He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; 3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.

4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. 5 He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. 6 He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.

7 He has walled me in so that I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. 8 Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. 9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, 11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. 12 He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. 14 I became the laughing-stock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. 15 He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. 17 I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. 18 So I say, 'My splendour is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.'

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. 29 Let him bury his face in the dust - there may yet be hope. 30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off by the Lord for ever. 32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. 33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.

34 To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, 35 to deny people their rights before the Most High, 36 to deprive them of justice - would not the Lord see such things?

37 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? 39 Why should the living complain when punished for their sins?

40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: 42 'We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.

43 'You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us; you have slain without pity. 44 You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through. 45 You have made us scum and refuse among the nations.

46 'All our enemies have opened their mouths wide against us. 47 We have suffered terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction.' 48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed.

49 My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, 50 until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees. 51 What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city.

52 Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird. 53 They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me; 54 the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish.

55 I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. 56 You heard my plea: 'Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.' 57 You came near when I called you, and you said, 'Do not fear.'

58 You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life. 59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause! 60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against me.

61 Lord, you have heard their insults, all their plots against me - 62 what my enemies whisper and mutter against me all day long. 63 Look at them! Sitting or standing, they mock me in their songs.

64 Pay them back what they deserve, Lord, for what their hands have done. 65 Put a veil over their hearts, and may your curse be on them! 66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the Lord.

Reflection

First Thought: Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet". His grief ran deep for Judah and his city, Jerusalem, destroyed by Babylon. His passion is palpable. He prophesied it in the book of his name and reflected upon it as Hebraic acrostic poetry in Lamentations. Sung funeral dirges. I wonder if we are able to weep for the people around us as Jeremiah did for those he saw that had rejected God in selfishness and sinfulness? I'm moved to tears quite easily and often, at things both significant and conversely seemingly benign. However, as I grow older I need to dismiss the temptation for any creeping cynicism and instead embrace God's beating, gracious heart for all humanity. But are we to do so and lament with the intensity that Jeremiah demonstrates? "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness"(ESV). (Is your brain playing the classic hymn in the background right now? Cheesy/meaningful link below)

Second Thought: Verses 55-63. I wish to encourage those who, like Jeremiah, find themselves deep in a pit. Perhaps some even have, 'enemies without reason' that worse still, vocally mock you (v52&63). God hears our plea, our prayers. He comes near when we call on his name. On the name of Jesus. And he says, "Do not fear". I am challenged by Jeremiah to seek God's heart to increase my passion for his people. Instead of trying to fit in and go with the flow, the banter, the questionable expectations, the language, the critical vibe, perhaps I need to find myself thrown in a persecution pit if it means Jesus' name is praised. I can then trust that my life can be redeemed and restored, seeing God's great love and unfailing compassion.


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