Posted by: ritagone | December 28, 2011

A New Year’s Resolution: Lamentations 3

I would like to close out my Rita’s Ramblings for the year 2011 with the entire third chapter of the book of Lamentations.  I don’t usually do this, as you will know if you’ve followed my blog on any kind of regular basis.  But I do it now because I think this writing of Jeremiah captures so well the ambivalence that I feel – and I think that so many of us feel – toward God so often, and thereby to understand that it’s okay.

So the bulk of this blog will be the text of Lamentations 3, which I think speaks for itself.  Contained in it is profound depths of despair and one of the most exhilarating statements of faith and belief ever recorded by mankind toward his Creator.  Which just about says it all.  Read it and savor it, both ends of the spectrum:

“I am the man who has seen affliction

Under the rod of his wrath;

He has driven and brought me

Into darkness without any light;

Surely against me he turns his hand

Again and again the whole day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;

He has broken my bones;

He has besieged and enveloped me

With bitterness and tribulation;

He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;

He has made my chains heavy;

Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;

He has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;

He has made my paths crooked.

He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;

He turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;

He has made me desolate;

He bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow.

He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver;

I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,

The object of their taunts all day long.

He has filled me with bitterness;

He has sated me with wormwood.

He has made my teeth grind on gravel,

And made me cower in ashes;

My soul is bereft of peace;

I have forgotten what happiness is;

So I say, ‘My endurance has perished;

So has my hope from the Lord.’

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,

The wormwood and the gall!

My soul continually remembers it

And is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope;

The steadfast hope of the Lord never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning;

Great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,

‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

To the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly

For the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for a man that he bear

The yoke in his youth.

Let him sit alone in silence

When it is laid on him;

Let him put his mouth in the dust –

There may yet be hope;

Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,

And let him be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not cast off forever,

But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion

According to the abundance of his steadfast love;

For he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.

To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth,

To deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High,

To subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.

Who has spoken and it came to pass,

Unless the Lord has commanded it?

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!

Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven:

‘We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven.

‘You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity;

You have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.

You have made us scum and garbage among the peoples.

‘All our enemies open their mouths against us;

Panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction;

My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.

‘My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite,

Until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees;

My eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the daughters of my city.

‘I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause;

They flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me;

Water closed over my head;

I said, ‘I am lost.’

‘I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit;

You heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’

You came near when I called on you;

You said, ‘Do not fear!’

‘You have taken up my cause, O Lord;

You have redeemed my life.

You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause.

You have seen all their vengeance, all their plots against me.

You have heard their taunts, O Lord, all their plots against me.

The lips and thoughts of my assailants

Are against me all the day long.

Behold their sitting and their rising;

I am the object of their taunts.

You will repay them, O Lord,

According to the work of their hands.

You will give them dullness of heart;

Your curse will be on them.

You will pursue them in anger and destroy them from under your heavens, O Lord.’”

Amen, and amen.  Do you see the godly ambivalance I’m talking about?  Within this chapter, Jeremiah is up and down, up and down, cursing, praising, unsure one moment, sure the next.  In the midst of profound doubt and wailings, the great phrase about “the steadfast hope of the Lord never ceasing,” and the never-worn-out “great is thy faithfulness” that we sing and pray and hope for.  Up and down, happy and sad.

Kind of like your life and mine, isn’t he?

That’s why I like this chapter, and why it resonates with me.  Because I find myself in the same boat so often.

So this next year, 2012, here’s my pledge: I’d like to experience a lot less down and a lot more up.  I’d like to know a lot more certainty and lot less uncertainty.  A lot more positive and a lot less negative.

And I wish the same for you reading this.

Not a bad New Year’s resolution for you and for me.

See you next year as we tackle life and all that belongs to it together again!

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Responses

  1. Rita ~ I so appreciate your honesty and perspective on the struggles each of us has in our relationship with God. It is so comforting to know that God, himself, has shown us in his Word that we humans will often straddle the fence of faith & doubt many times throughout our lives. I have noticed that when one of us is going through a period of doubt — another Christian comes along with a warm blanket of faith to cover us during that difficult time. How blessed we are to have such a firm foundation in the Word and daily reassurance from the power of prayer!

    • Thanks, Martha. I always appreciate your comments about my comments!!

  2. Rita, what a great passage to read just before a new year begins. Thanks for posting this. Happy New Year to you and your family
    Annie

    • Happy New Year, Annie. Hope all’s well with you. Love, Rita

  3. Another great blog. I love your writing.

    • Thank you, my friend. I wish you would write more.

  4. Hey Rita!
    Would you add me to your email list. This was so perfect for me because we AGAIN had such drama around here with my youngest daughter over Christmas (at least I’m finally on the last one!) and it definitely is painful that we can’t seem to just enjoy the Christmas season and the true meaning without stress. Fortunately I do know where my strength and advice comes from, and am there searching for continued answers.
    Are you doing a Bible Study this year? Got room for another one?
    Thanks for these words of wisdom.
    Happy New Year~
    Jana

    • Jana, if you go to the blog, you can sign up by going to the lower right corner and signing up via email.
      I am so sorry you’re having daughter trouble again; I guess this chapter of Lamentations is particularly apt for you. I pray 2012 brings better relationship between you and her. Tough stuff.
      Yes, I am teaching at Connection on Thursday morning at Calvary, 9:30 a.m., for the month of January, on Friendship. Come on by! I’d love to see you there. That’s the only Bible study I’m involved in other than Third Quarter on Sunday mornings and our Growth Group.


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