“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath.” A singular speaker is featured in the central chapter of this book of sadness. He knows that he suffers at the hand of the God who is his only hope. How deep is his pain? “He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; He has broken my bones.” God has covered him with a life of “bitterness and tribulation.” He sees no way out of his troubles.
The writer envisions Jehovah as a hunter. “He bent His bow and set me as a target for His arrow.” There is an audience watching it all, and they are far from sympathetic. “I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long.”
At this moment of greatest despair, when he does not remember what happiness is and is convinced that he simply cannot go on, the Lord of eternity produces a new song of hope from this suffering man’s lips.
The steadfast love 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 writer somehow remembers the grace of Almighty God. He knows again, at least for a moment, that “the Lord is good to those who wait for Him.” He considers that God’s discipline is a part of His steadfast love. He recalls the character of Jehovah, that “He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”
This leads the prophet to a more sober consideration of the fault that God might be correcting.
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.
The prophet’s words are a good beginning here, but important steps of corporate mourning must now take place. A true concern about the sin of God’s covenant people should be honestly expressed. The entire community must turn back to the Lord with heartfelt repentance. These actions of humility coexist with continued grief for the suffering of those who belong to the Almighty. “My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.”
Lamentations 3 ends with a note of confidence concerning the Lord of Hosts. He is a God of justice who will punish the wicked, but He is also a God of mercy who will keep His holy promises to His beloved people. Such reflections remind the New Testament reader that only the cross of Jesus Christ could have ever secured our salvation. The kindness and severity of the Lord met in one sinless Man’s death at Calvary so many years ago. Because of the steadfast love of Jesus, we will not be lost forever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Sovereign Lord, we have faced great tribulation. We cry for help. Do You not hear us? Where is Your aid? O God, we hate our sin. Father, we feel no hope in our hearts, yet we remember Your steadfast covenant love, mercy, and great faithfulness. We should wait patiently for You when it seems like we have no future. Help us to take this affliction now. This will not last forever. You are not vicious toward us, O God. You must have a purpose in this day of testing. Help us to turn now from all sin. Grant us a very large repentance. Surely there is something good that will come from all these tears. There must be some blessing in this horrible loss. Do not close Your ear to our cries for help. Through Christ, You have surely redeemed our lives from complete destruction.