We are in week 3 of our journey through the book of Lamentations, seeking to find the grace of God through the process of lament. Pain and grief are a part of living in world broken by sin, so it is imperative that we develop a biblically based process for dealing with them. We’ve been using the fourfold process for dealing with sorrow as outlined in Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop, which outlines the structure of lament. This process is 1) an address to God, 2) a complaint, 3) a request, and 4) an expression of trust (turn, complain, ask, and trust). In Lamentations 1, we saw how in the midst of overwhelming sorrow, Jeremiah turned to cry out to God. In Lamentations 2, we saw Jeremiah bring his complaint to God. For those walking through lament, there is a crossroads that must be faced before proceeding on in the process of healing. In Lamentations 3, we see Jeremiah reach this same crossroads. Jeremiah has a choice to make: does he remain focused on the pain of his circumstances, or does he choose to step into hope? As we shall see in Chapter 3, though Jeremiah’s circumstances have not changed, his outlook has, which opens the door for his healing to begin. Jeremiah focuses on the truth about who God is to move him from complaint to hope. According to Vroegop, we see Jeremiah declare four truths about God’s character to which we can turn in moments of crisis:
- God’s mercy never ends (vv. 22-24). In the midst of the devastation around him, Jeremiah chooses to remember that our God is a merciful God, slow to anger, and full of love and compassion. The dawning of each new day is a new opportunity to experience God’s grace.
- Waiting is not a waste (vv. 25-27). Waiting on God is one of the most difficult parts of the Christian walk because it requires us to admit that we are not in control. So often we resist the waiting, trying to manipulate both God and our circumstances to get to where we want to be. However, much of the hard work of renewal happens in those seasons of waiting, when we yield control and trust in God’s goodness and timing.
- The final word has not been spoken (vv. 31-32). When we are in crisis, it is easy to fall into defeatism. Sometimes, we are even encouraged by others to adjust to the “new normal” of our circumstances. While difficult circumstances are many times life-changing, they don’t have to be hope-defeating. Jeremiah chooses to believe that the end of his story is not found in this tragedy. As Rom. 8:28 promises, God is working all things (even the bad stuff) together for our good and His glory.
- God is always good (vs. 33). Our God is not a capricious, vindictive God. He loves us with a depth of love that we cannot even begin to comprehend. However, He always acts with the end goal in mind. He is working for our eternal good, not our momentary pleasure. Like the work of a skillful surgeon causes temporary pain to restore health to our bodies, so our God is working to restore our spiritual health. Though we are often willing to settle for what’s good, He will settle for nothing less than what’s best.
When we shift our focus from our circumstances to our God, hope is reborn. We regain the ability to allow the truth of who God is dictate our response instead of allowing our circumstances to dictate our response. In doing so, we open our hearts to the healing that comes from a deeper, richer relationship with our Creator.
- Many folks struggle with moving past the complaint stage of lament. Why might that be?
- Why is waiting so hard? How does the act of waiting bring to light our need for control?
- Read Prov. 13:12. Does this contradict the idea that waiting is not a waste?
- Can you think of a circumstance when you felt as if the final word had been spoken and you’d lost hope? Is there a circumstance where you feel that way now? How might verses 32-33 change that perspective?