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Tuesday Thoughts 10-31-17

Regular readers know my pattern of a yearly journey through the Bible.  I am always amazed at the fresh application of words and principles I’ve read dozens of times!  But there are some passages that I have to prepare myself for.  After all, there are some pretty terrible things that happen in the story of tainted-with-evil humanity.  One of the books that is a challenge for me to read every year is in the Old Testament, it’s called Lamentations.  A lament is a deep expression of sorrow and grief, and coming after two months of reading the prophetic books of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Jeremiah wrote Lamentations too), I always feel like it’s time for something outrageously happy. Well, this isn’t that.  This is a personal expression of Jeremiah’s sorrow over all the bad things that came upon the people of God and, in particular, Jerusalem, the Holy City (because the temple, considered God’s earthly home, was there).  You may know that Jeremiah is nicknamed “the weeping prophet”, and he is at his teary best here.  In past years, I have categorized Lamentations as a book of complaint, but the Holy Spirit has helped me see that it is, instead, a book of regret. That’s a huge difference!  If the people that abandoned God’s love by not following His ways are complaining about the consequences, that’s hard for me to take (if I intentionally touch bare, live, electric wires, I should not complain at the jolt).  But if, after suffering the consequences of my actions, I see my error, turn back to God, and regret my wandering in the first place, it is stupendous!  This is at the core of the book.  Jeremiah (except for a small lapse of faith) wept and lamented for the sins of others, the people of God.  And right in the middle of all this regret is one of most beautiful expressions of the grace of God (and words to my favorite of the old hymns): “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22–24 (NIV84). So what am I suggesting we take from all this?  Ownership of consequences is first.  Do not feel beleaguered or picked-on when your lack of followership leads to tough things.  What else would you expect? God is holy and calls His followers to holiness.  The consequences that come after self-centered living are natural and full of purpose.  Second, turn and regret your wandering.  While we are not supposed to live in regret, walking through it is a necessary crossroad to holiness.  Third, see and embrace His love and compassion which motivates those consequences and limits their effect (we are NOT consumed!). Finally, embrace the portion of the Lord.   Jesus is all we need!  Whatever He supplies is perfectly designed both in quality and quantity.  It was dissatisfaction with the portion of God that lead His people to the disobedience causing the consequences out of which Lamentations was written.  If our Creator is, indeed, enough for us, we will always have enough!  Do you need to weep, wail, and mourn in regret today?  Well, get on with it!  Get to the good part—waiting on the new mercies of the Lord!

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