Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Lamentations’

When Gloom and Doom Loom

Two books of “gloom and doom” are found in the Old Testament:  Job and Lamentations.  The main body of both of these is a series of laments over tragedy.  For Job, it was personal tragedy—rather, a whole series of them.  For Jeremiah, who wrote Lamentations, it was national tragedy as he toured the ruins of what had been his beloved Jerusalem.

But in the middle of each book shines an outstanding expression of hope. 

Job, after expressing a lot of complaint and despair, bursts out with a statement of faith that on which Handel based a beautiful air in his Messiah:

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!  (Job 19:25-17 NLT)

And Jeremiah—right smack dab in the middle of his anguish, he exclaims:

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”  (Lamentations 3:22-24)

When gloom and doom loom on my horizon,  Lord, let me see that silver lining and hope in You!

Under What Conditions Peace?

Jeremiah has a lot to say about peace.  He pens the word “shalom” 31 times in the book that bears his name.  But it’s mostly about false hopes of false peace based on false prophets’ promises of peace for people rebelling against God, refusing to listen to Him, and plotting against their neighbors (6:10, 14; 9:8; 23:16-17 et al.).

Of course they hoped for peace, especially protection from the threatening Babylonian and Egyptian superpowers (e.g. 14:19) which were playing tug-of-war over them.  But what God promises them instead is destruction and devastation.  In fact, this is what happened and is mourned by the same writer in his book of Lamentations which mentions “shalom” only once:  “Peace has been stripped away!” (3:17)

In the end there is hope—but only under God’s conditions.  After all the judgment and devastation, God will  heal, restore peace, rebuild the ruined nation, cleanse his people of their sins and forgive their rebellion.  This is the only positive reference to peace in the book:

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns.  I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.” (Jeremiah 33:6-9)

When I read about the people of that day, I want to shake those deluded peace-dreamers awake and help them get a grip on the source of true peace.  But no, they had to suffer excruciatingly for their willful blindness.  How about us today?  I pray God will have mercy on us, opening our eyes to see the way to true peace.  And most of all, I look forward to the rule of the Prince of Peace on this earth. 

Your kingdom come!  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!  Amen!!!

The darker the night…

A diamond is most effectively displayed against a black background. 

Total darkness is needed in order to see the stars in all their glory.

This gem shines in the center of the bleakest of books, as Jeremiah wept over the total devastation of his beloved land:

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

And Habakkuk’s triumphal climax arises from a scenario of total ruin:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
  (3:17-18)

Lord, help me to remember that my little candle can make a bigger difference as the darkness closes in around us.  May it shine brightly until the dawn of Your return!

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