Lamentations (25th Letter, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters)
God, what was so wrong in your people that made you treat them so severely? It seems cruel, more like what a mad dictator would do to citizens plotting a coup than how a loving God would treat misbehaving children.
God’s response: You will recognize its value when you understand the sin that deserved it.
God, are you more just than compassionate?
God’s response: My Justice serves the deeper purposes of My love. Always.
God, it just occurred to me. I can’t remember ever hearing a sermon series on this letter. It just doesn’t fit our culture’s understanding of christianity. A majority of Americans today say they believe in You and want to know You. But who do they think You are?
God’s response: It is only the wrong-minded who prefer a foolishly kind grandfather who takes his children to Disney World when they need to be in a hospital. People in their right minds are drawn to Me in every circumstance as their only source of true meaning, joyful belonging, and renewing rest. But everyone enters this world in their wrong mind. Unless I shout to them in suffering, everyone stays deceived. Every moment of suffering represents a strident but merciful call to repent. And every moment of suffering presents a painful opportunity to hope.
Perhaps now you better understand the sin that led Me to drive My people into exile. My actions were just. And My Justice served My purposes of love. I was shouting to My people: Do not live to arrange for your satisfaction. Confess the evil of your arrogance. Repent of your self-provision. Trust Me, in every moment of suffering. I do not mean you harm. My plan for you is the prosperity of enjoying Me, of dancing at My party. You cannot dance in the ditch of denial.
CS Lewis said “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain; it is his megaphone to a deaf world.
Let us hear His gentle voice of love whispering beneath His paralyzing shouts.
LAMENTATIONS: The Therapy of Trouble – From Ray Stedman<-(click here for entire Bible summary)
As you read through this book, you will find many foreshadowings of our Lord weeping over the city of Jerusalem.
The book is designed to teach us through what might be called the therapy of trouble, what sorrow teaches us. All through Scripture we are told that pain and suffering are God’s instruments by which he teaches us. Through suffering comes strength of character. We read in Hebrews of the Lord Jesus, “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered,” (Heb 5:8 RSV). There were things the Lord Jesus had to learn and could learn only by living as a man through times of suffering and sorrow. If he was not exempt, why should we expect to be?
This is why it is never right for a Christian to say, as so many of us do, when trouble strikes, “Why should this happen to me?” Well, why shouldn’t it happen to you? As Hebrews 12, Verse 10, reminds us, it is a mark of God’s love. He sent it to discipline us, to teach us, and to train
In Luke 14, Jesus is explaining why he said to the disciples, “Except a man forsake his mother and father and son and daughter he cannot be my disciple.” As they wondered at this, he said “You are wondering why I am so severe with you. I will tell you. It is because I am going out to do a great work of building. I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I am going out to do battle with a great foe, a foe of cleverness and ruthlessness, and I have to be sure that the men who follow me are men on whom I can depend. I have to count the cost.”
In other words, “I have to get you ready for a battle that is going to go on far beyond this life. So I want men who will be mine, who will be absolutely, wholly mine so I can train them, prepare them, and bring them through trials and hardships, teaching them the great principles. When we finally get up against it, up against the real conflict, I will have men that I can depend upon. But I will have counted the cost.”
That is what he is talking about. When we learn our lessons here – when we learn how to handle sorrow and heartache and desolation of
spirit in this limited way here – we will be prepared so that nothing can overthrow us; we will be unconquerable in the battle that God faces in the subjugation of the entire universe.
I often think of this: What lies beyond? Is not God preparing us now to do a mightier work in the future? Is he not getting us ready to carry on a conflict that will extend to the uttermost reaches of this vast universe of ours? Of course he is. God never does anything without a purpose. He never creates anything without intending to use it. And all this lies ahead of us. That is why it is so important that we learn how to face up to sorrow and to learn what God would have us to learn in the midst of it.
Lamentations – David Jeremiah (Understanding the 66 Books of the Bible)
Key thought: Sinfulness brings inevitable sorrow and judgment, but even in lamentable times God is faithful and His compassions never fail.
Key Verse: Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Key Action: Just like Jeremiah in distress, we must lift our thoughts from the ashes and throw open the windows of our minds, recalling the wonders of God in whom we hope.