1 I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.
10 Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. 15 He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
When life is hard, what do you do? What did Jeremiah do? He cried. He wailed. He poured out his laments: expressions of sadness in words and tears. Jeremiah was a prophet called by God to proclaim words of doom to his people… words that people did not want to hear. For this, Jeremiah suffered much as people tried to kill him, starve him, criticise him and cast him out. In the midst of all difficulties, Jeremiah acknowledged that God put him through all of it. He was in the lowest darkest pit of desperate hopelessness. His cries were affirmative of God’s hands in all of his sufferings yet they were not negative complaints against God.
A friend complained: how come God allows so much suffering in the world if He is a loving God! I used to reply: Why don’t you blame the devil instead? He is the cause of all sufferings in the world. While this statement seems to be partially true, the bottom line is God allows it. Jeremiah saw God’s hands at work in all that he’s going through. This positive acknowledgement helped him to cope when life is hard. How? Because just as he saw God in his hardships, he also recalled God’s love through his difficult times.
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
Jeremiah’s hope is in the Lord. A man’s hope enables him to look positively at all the negative things in life. He affirmed God’s great love and his compassions never fail. To have compassion is to be merciful. Compassion is sympathetic concern for the sufferings of others. God sees. He knows how hard it is. He is merciful. God’s mercy is withholding from us what we deserve. Our sins deserve grave consequences. Our disobedience deserve punishment. Yet God’s mercy enables us to go through sufferings without crushing us.
Jeremiah’s hope allows him to wait patiently for God’s salvation. He knew that God’s unfailing love prevails and protects. No one is cast off by God forever. Even though God causes grief, he shows mercy. It grieves him that we are grieving. There is an end to suffering.
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.
Are you going through tough times, dear friend? Remember:
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.
God is faithful. He keeps his promises. He will see you through when life is hard.