Pain and Hope: Jeremiah

i will hope in the lord

In Lamentations 1, Jeremiah grieves deeply because of God’s rejection of Jerusalem. In verse one, he reflects on the city which was once full of people and prosperous, in comparison to what he now saw, an empty city that “has now become a slave” (Lam. 1:1b). Jeremiah also grieves in multiple verses (1:2, 9, 16, 17 and 21) mentioning that the nation has “none to comfort her.”  The city  turned away from God to trust in other nations who betrayed them and became their enemies (Lam. 1:5, 7, 19). Not only  could they not find comfort in those other nations but they couldn’t find their comfort in God because their sin had caused God to become their judge.

Lamentations 2 tells us about the devastation that Judah encountered once God’s wrath came upon them. Throughout the chapter one we see that Judah’s fall had affected everyone in the city, from kings and princes , to priests and prophets (2:9), from young to old (2:10,21), to infant children (2: 11-12). Jeremiah was incredibly grieved by this because in verse 11, we are given an image of his pain. He says, “my eyes do fall with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured on the earth”(Lam 2:11a). Jeremiah was in so much emotional pain that had an effect on his entire body and to the point that he nearly cried until he was blind.

In Chapter 3 Jeremiah experiences hope in the midst of his affliction. In verses 1-20, the prophet speaks about his experience and how in his time of sorrow, the Lord had been fighting against him. He says, “when I cry for help, he shuts out my prayer” (3:8), “he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.”  (3:11). However in verses 21-36, Jeremiah says that despite this, he still has hope because “[the Lord’s] compassions never fail” (3:22). Jeremiah knew from his experiences that God was faithful. While God had promised judgment for disobedience, he also promised future blessing and restoration.  Jeremiah even uses his experience of his enemies throwing him into an empty cistern, comparing it to Judah sinking into sin but there is yet hope for them; if they return to God, he would rescue them.

The hope that Jeremiah finds in the midst of his affliction can help to bring assurance to us today that although we may suffer for a while, God’s promises never fail. We can be strengthened in our darkest of moments if we rely on God’ faithfulness and cling to his love. If you are a child of God, he will never leave you to suffer torment without bringing restoration. If someone is suffering because of sin, it is important to remember that the Lord’s mercy and love is steadfast and is greater than any sin. If we trust in God’s faithfulness day by day we will be confident in his promises for the future.

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