Daily Reflections August 25, 2017
Jeremiah, author of Lamentations, weeps over the siege of Jerusalem. The book of Lamentations communicates his heartfelt sorrow and profound understanding of suffering. While the book of Job deals primarily with personal suffering, the book of Lamentations deals primarily with corporate suffering. In the past, this has brought believers comfort and continues to do so today.
Poetically, the second chapter of Lamentations shares with us some helpful reminders about sorrow:
1. Grieving involves recounting the good that was lost. Jeremiah remembers the glory of former Jerusalem and how far it had fallen. Jerusalem lost everything: the temple, homes, defensive walls, kingly palaces, political and spiritual leaders, and even its dignity. Facing reality and the weight of the pain is necessary in the process of grief. Embrace this part of the process. Like Jeremiah, we need to mourn;
“My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city.” (Lamentations 2:11)
2. Grieving births desperation and dependence. When God destroys the idols that bring comfort, there is a void. The enemy nations would not save, their prophets were useless, and nothing was left to rebuild. According to what was promised, God brought destruction upon Jerusalem so he could be their only hope and relief. Jeremiah directs the people to call out to the only One who can satisfy their desperation and dependence:
“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.” (Lamentations 2: 19).
We have seen those who have lost much and in their longing, fled to the arms of more harmful idols. Instead, be quick to cry out to God as the only source of true peace. Encourage our loved ones to do so as well.
Lamentations, like Job, may not always answer all of our questions about God or suffering. But if we lean into Lamentations, it can give us immense help as we walk thorugh the valley of the shadow of death.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
In Psalm 33 the psalmist begins with instructions for his listeners. He tells them to shout for joy in the Lord, to give thanks to the Lord through music, and to sing to Him a new song. All of this sets the stage for what is to follow. In the remainder of the psalm, the psalmist will depict the greatness of the Lord. He does this with the aim to lead the people into joyful worship. Contemplation on the works and character of God should always be joy producing to His children.
What is so praiseworthy and joy producing about our God? The psalmist tells us that the Lord is upright, faithful, righteous, and just. He created the world in which we live and fills it with His steadfast love. We see in this a beautiful display of both God’s power and intimacy. The psalmist continues to say that the Lord not only creates, but He also controls. No nation or person could ever stand against Him, for the counsel of the Lord is always accomplished. His children can rest assured that their faith is best placed in Him, for He has the power to overcome all odds, including death itself. The psalm then concludes with a slightly nuanced reiteration of the introduction. We are told that our hearts should be glad in Him, for He can be trusted, and His steadfast love is upon those who hope in Him.
This psalm begs us to ask ourselves two questions. The first is whether we truly find our joy in the Lord. When you hear about all that the Lord has done, does it go in one ear and out the other, or does it stir up a spirit of thanksgiving within you? In a world where we are constantly being bombarded by new information it is easy for old truths to grow stale. This, however, should not be true for the believer. For example, you might be tempted to gloss over reminders that the Lord created the heavens and the earth, but the psalmist here tells us that these truths should rather stir up songs of thanksgiving within us.
The second question this psalm begs us to ask is whether we have truly placed our hope in the Lord. Do you feel defeated by the darkness in this world, or do you trust that there is a sovereign God in the heavens who holds all things in His hands? Be glad of heart, the psalmist says, for the plans of the peoples will be frustrated, but the counsel of the Lord shall stand forever. Everything in this world will ultimately fail, but He who trusts in the Lord will spend eternity rejoicing in the steadfast love of the Lord.