Read Lamentations 3
3 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.”
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:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
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.
28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
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.
34 To crush underfoot
all prisoners in the land,
35 to deny people their rights
before the Most High,
36 to deprive them of justice—
would not the Lord see such things?
37 Who can speak and have it happen
if the Lord has not decreed it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?
39 Why should the living complain
when punished for their sins?
40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
to God in heaven, and say:
42 “We have sinned and rebelled
and you have not forgiven.
43 “You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us;
you have slain without pity.
44 You have covered yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can get through.
45 You have made us scum and refuse
among the nations.
46 “All our enemies have opened their mouths
wide against us.
47 We have suffered terror and pitfalls,
ruin and destruction.”
48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes
because my people are destroyed.
49 My eyes will flow unceasingly,
50 until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
51 What I see brings grief to my soul
because of all the women of my city.
52 Those who were my enemies without cause
hunted me like a bird.
53 They tried to end my life in a pit
and threw stones at me;
54 the waters closed over my head,
and I thought I was about to perish.
55 I called on your name, Lord,
from the depths of the pit.
56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief.”
57 You came near when I called you,
and you said, “Do not fear.”
58 You, Lord, took up my case;
you redeemed my life.
59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me.
Uphold my cause!
60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance,
all their plots against me.
61 Lord, you have heard their insults,
all their plots against me—
62 what my enemies whisper and mutter
against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Sitting or standing,
they mock me in their songs.
64 Pay them back what they deserve, Lord,
for what their hands have done.
65 Put a veil over their hearts,
and may your curse be on them!
66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under the heavens of the Lord.
Things aren’t going well for Jeremiah. As Jeremiah surveys Jerusalem in the wake of Babylon’s conquest, he personalizes the suffering of the city by applying it to his own life. What God has done to Israel, Jeremiah considers done to himself, too. At the crux of these verses are questions we still struggle to answer today. How do we find the strength to overcome life’s most difficult moments? Where do we turn when hope seems like nothing more than wishful thinking?
While Jeremiah has spent the first two and a half chapters decrying the state of a war-torn and joyless land, he eventually finds his anchor in the storm. The shift comes in verses 21-23. “Yet this I keep in mind: 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.”
Let’s think more about these verses as we grow in the Lord today. Feel free to read through each phrase slowly and carefully, asking God to share his heart with you as you read.
- Yet this I keep in mind: God wants us to keep in mind who he is and what he is doing all the time. It is easy to let our minds be filled with ideas from other people or ourselves.
- Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed: His love will save us from evil. No matter how difficult our scenario appears to be, we will not be overtaken.
- His compassions never fail: He is with us and cares for us.
- They are new every morning: God’s love and compassion are consistent.
- Great is your faithfulness: God’s faithfulness is stronger than our own or others around us.
Jeremiah’s words give us hope today. In the midst of suffering—whether it is communal or personal—we need an anchor to hold on to when the storm seems to be pulling our boat out to sea. God is our anchor. We should cling to him. Let us keep His words in our mind, holding on to hope, filled with his love and admiring his faithfulness.
- How would you describe God’s character throughout this chapter?
- The ‘anchor’ of Jeremiah’s hope appears in verse 21. How is that anchor formed (v. 25-29)? Why is it important to know your faith before hardship comes?
- In the midst of suffering, what is something (a verse, a memory, a prayer) that keeps you going?
Did You Know?
Chapter 3 differs from the others through a literary device that Jeremiah uses called an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and the verses within each stanza begin with the same letter. Even within the suffering, Jeremiah is reaching to bring beauty back into the city through his own poetry.
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