Well, most people wouldn't get up and start their morning with, "Hey, I think I'll read Lamentations today!" But, that's exactly what I did this morning. Why, well - providence my dear friend. It was exactly what the Lord wanted me to read today and hopefully my words here will be what you needed to hear today. I would encourage you to read over the book of Lamentations for yourself, it is a short four chapters, of total grief and anguish. A delightful read :O(.
Let's start with a definition of the word Lament. I am using a definition from the Webster's 1828 dictionary, my favorite resource for word studies. I especially like that it often includes words used in scriptural context. You'll have a hard time finding that feature in newer versions of the Webster's dictionary. You can access it here http://www.cbtministries.org/resources/webster1828.htm.
Why not add it to your favorites list.
LAMENT', v.i. [L. lamentor.]
1. To mourn; to grieve; to weep or wail; to express sorrow.
Jeremiah lamented for Josiah. 2Chron. 35.
2. To regret deeply; to feel sorrow.
LAMENT', v.t. To bewail; to mourn for; to bemoan; to deplore.
LAMENT', n. [L. lamentum.] Grief or sorrow expressed in complaints or cries; lamentation; a weeping.
Here's what the introduction in my Bible says about the book of Lamentations. "Lamentations describes the funeral of a city. It is a tearstained portrait of the once proud Jerusalem, now reduced to rubble by the invading Babylonian hordes. In a five-poem dirge, Jeremiah exposes his emotions. A death has occurred; Jerusalem lies barren."
"Jeremiah writes his lament in acrostic or alphabetical fashion. Beginning each chapter with the first letter A (aleph) he progresses verse by verse through the Hebrew alphabet, literally weeping from A to Z. And then, in the midst of this terrible holocaust, Jeremiah triumphantly cries, 'Great is Your faithfulness!' (3:23). In the face of death and destruction, with life seemingly coming apart, Jeremiah turns tragedy into a triumph of faith. God has never failed him in the past. God has promised to remain faithful in the future. In the light of the God he knows and loves, Jeremiah finds hope and comfort." (I love that last sentence.)
I love the beauty of the picture this paints, because it is SO like my life. Todd and I have endured some of the greatest struggles known to any married couple, and praise be to our God - He is faithful! I just loved when in the midst of all of the tears and mourning in the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah bursts forth in glorious praise to the God he knows. I am so thankful that our God has revealed Himself to us in such amazing ways. (John 17:3 - "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.")
I've said it before and those of you who know me well are sure to have heard it, but as painful as the loss of our first child was, as painful as it was to take our second child in for a surgery our first born did not survive, as painful as those things were to us, we would never trade a moment of it because of what we have learned to be true about our awesome and amazing God! This is the essence of eternal life, knowing God as He is. How often we are guilty of seeing Him as we'd like Him to be.
"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I 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 hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
and verse 38
"Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?"
We, as a church body, have lost site of the fact that God is in control of everything. We quickly give lip service to it, but rarely apply it to our hearts. We want to believe that, "God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives." And, while that is true, we don't want to believe that part of that wonderful plan could ever involve suffering. How arrogant, how unbelievably pathetic that is. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all..." (Romans 8:32) He allowed the worst suffering to come upon His own Son, for me and for you. That is truly amazing to me. "Oh the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33) I never cease to be amazed at His wondorous love for us, and yet we think that this love will (should) cause Him to protect us from pain at all costs. This simply is not true, that is a lie.
So, how do we live as children of God with the knowledge that not everything is going to "go our way"? With complete peace and the utter assurance that ultimately it will all go God's way - which is always for our greatest good and His ultimate glory! We must live in complete submission to His will for our lives. We must start each day with, "yes Lord, here am I, send me". Whatever He has on tap for you today, you can rest assured that it has come through His hand and that you are to learn something from it.
What are you to learn today? Perhaps it is patience (we all hate that one don't we?). Perhaps He is teaching you to bear with one another in love, to cover the faults of others, to love in spite of frustration or fear, to give yourself in complete abandon to His plans and His purpose for your life, and to live in complete obedience TODAY. Yes, God IS in control, and sometimes we will suffer pain, loss, persecution, grief and anguish, as a part of His plan. How will you respond today? Will you feel like Job's wife, "Curse God and die"? (Job 2:9) Or will you stand firm like Job, "...Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"
Some of you know our story of how God began to reveal Himself to us more deeply, some don't. At the first of the year, Todd and I were privileged to speak at a local church under their sermon series "Shattered...Broken Lives Restored". The church made a copy of the talk, and gave us one of the discs. If anyone would like to hear it, I can burn you a disc and mail it to you. You may email me privately.
Abiding in Christ,