Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Are you bummed out about something today? Perhaps the condition of your nation…your church…your health…your finances…your emotions…or your family? Then I think you’ll find hope and encouragement through the words of the prophet Jeremiah, sometimes called “the weeping prophet.”
As Jeremiah wept during the devastation of his beloved city, Jerusalem, his initial reaction was not to blame the Babylonian invaders for his agony. He blamed God, concluding that his nation’s afflictions had come “from the rod of God’s wrath” (Lamentations 3:1-20 TLB).
You have to admit, this was a logical conclusion. The Lord had promised to defend and protect His people if they walked in His ways. So the Babylonians weren’t actually the real problem—it was an issue between God and His people.
As Jeremiah witnessed the troubling events befalling his nation, he reasoned, “[God] has turned against me…and surrounded me with anguish and distress.” And he also was baffled by the fact that “though I cry and shout, he will not hear my prayers!”
Jeremiah was having a very bad day, and God didn’t seem to immediately come to his aid. Perhaps you can relate.
To make matters worse, Jeremiah felt “stuck,” unable to find any quick or easy solution to his pain: “He has walled me in; I cannot escape.” Perhaps you’ve wanted escape too. In frustration, you’ve been tempted to leave your country, your job, or your marriage. But escape is rarely the answer.
While Jeremiah knew that God promises freedom to His people when they trust and obey Him, he must have been horrified by the realization that “he has fastened me with heavy chains.” How traumatic!
But the chains of the Babylonians were not much different from the chains of debt we now find ourselves in as a nation. One estimate says that every baby born this year will immediately owe $250,000 as their share of the national debt. Chains of bondage, don’t you think?
Jeremiah probably once had a nice plan for his life, but now everything had changed. Instead of getting closer to his destination, just the opposite seemed true: “[God] has filled my path with detours.” Perhaps you’re one of the thousands of people who’ve had to defer your retirement plans because of “detours” in the economy. I can relate.
If you find yourself lamenting today, you no doubt feel a need for comrades who understand and sympathize. But Jeremiah wasn’t given this luxury. He felt very much alone, even rejected: “My own people laugh at me; all day long they sing their ribald songs.”
Hmmm…sounds like a cultural war is going on, doesn’t it? While Jeremiah lamented, the people around him laughed. Seemingly without a clue about the destruction they were facing, people mocked God’s prophetic message and chose to flaunt their worldly ways. Jeremiah must have faced opposition from leaders who, like some today, belittle godly people for “clinging to their guns and religion” instead of embracing cultural trends.
Recognizing peace and prosperity as two key pillars of every nation truly blessed by God, Jeremiah was disturbed to realize that both were slipping away: “All peace and all prosperity have long since gone, for you [God] have taken them away.”
As Jeremiah surveyed this dismal situation, he made another quite logical deduction: “The Lord has left me…All hope is gone.” Who could blame him for feeling melancholy, hopeless, and even bitter?
Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of the story. Jeremiah went on to describe how the Lord broke through the dark clouds of disillusionment and gave him a sudden ray of encouragement:
Yet there is one ray of hope: his compassion never ends.
It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction.
Great is his faithfulness; his loving‑kindness begins afresh each day.
My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him.
The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek for him (Lamentations 3:21-25 TLB).
What an incredible change in Jeremiah’s perspective! Even in his gloomy place of lament, he saw an amazing ray of hope. From the pit of despair, he saw the Lord’s compassion and faithfulness. From an attitude of blaming God for his anguish, he ended up praising God and declaring His goodness.
So what about you? If you are experiencing a time of lament today—concerning your own life, your loved ones, your church, or your nation—may the Lord break through the clouds and give you a fresh glimpse of His faithfulness.
Like Jeremiah, the apostle John faced some frightening times when he wrote the book of Revelation. Yet everything changed when he saw “a throne in heaven and Someone sitting on it” (Revelation 4:1-2).
Praise God, He is still faithful and still sitting on the throne of the universe.