Article: Hope Amid Hopelessness | Dr. Shiju Mathew

The book of Lamentations is a mournful postscript to the book of Jeremiah. The book of Jeremiah starts with the call of Jeremiah, the midchapter is about the threat towards Jeremiah and ends with the fall of Jerusalem (the city of peace). The book of Lamentations should be read against these three components.
Chapter three is the heart of this book. It gives a positive framework around which other chapters revolve.
3:1-18 Jeremiah’s Pain
3:19-40 Jeremiah’s Hope and God’s Chesed (Steadfast Love)
3:41-66 Jeremiah’s Prayer
When we are surrounded by pain and peril, look upward with hope knowing the fact that He can read our hearts (Hannah); he can watch over us (Jonah); he is with us (Joseph); he walks with us (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah); he is awake even in the night (Daniel); he loosens our chains (Paul and Silas); and he gives vision and hopes to others when we are disconnected (John in the book of Revelation).
Jeremiah’s Pain
Jeremiah was confused as he watched God seemingly reverse His past attitudes and actions. Sometimes what we have seen in the past (Deut. 28 and 30), and what we have uttered through our own lips (Jer 25 and 29) may look blurred and move towards total darkness and hopelessness. Instead of walking in the light of God’s guidance (Psalm 23 and Psalm 119:105), he had been forced to stumble in darkness (Jn 9:4). God has turned His hand against Jeremiah (Job 19:21). God’s afflictions had taken their toll on his health (vv.4-6). Jeremiah was broken in body and spirit i.e., outward changes and inner bitterness (vv.15, 19 see Jesus was offered gall when He was thirsty (Jn 19). Jeremiah could see no way out and was feeling imprisoned and chained (vv.7-9) and God refused to acknowledge his prayers for help. God’s actions were like a bear or lion in hiding beside the path to attack and maul Jeremiah (vv.10-13). Jeremiah concludes his pain description with laughingstock (vv.14-18).
When pain puts pressure on your life, approach the presence of God with faith and hope, for pressure will turn into a treasure.
Jeremiah’s Hope
Hope is not a distant reality! Where there is no way, He prepares the way (Isaiah 36; 37; Psalm 36, 37)
Jeremiah’s outward affliction (v.19a cf.1-4) and inward turmoil (v.19b cf. 5, 13, and 15) pushed him further towards the season of downcast (v.20 cf. Psalm 42). When you are pushed and pressed to the extreme, there comes the real treasure (Gold, Diamond, and rich harvest come not without pressure). Pressure from the world brings pleasure from the Word. When hopelessness threatens to overwhelm you, one thought and one touch can change the taste of life (Psalm 34 – O taste and see).
Jeremiah resolved not to weep but to wait for God to act. In verses 25-40, Jeremiah mentions seven principles about the nature of Israel’s affliction:
a. Affliction should be endured with Hope in Him (Hope in God’s salvation)- vv. 25-28.
b. Affliction is only temporary and will be tempered by God’s compassion and love – vv. 31-32.
c. Affliction is not delighted by God i.e., God does not delight in affliction – v.33.
d. Affliction, if comes because of injustice. God sees it and does not approve of it- vv.34-36.
e. Affliction is always in relationship to God’s sovereignty – Vv.37-38 cf. Job 2:10.
f. Affliction ultimately came because of Judah’s sins – v.39 cf. Jn 9.
g. Affliction should accomplish the greater good of turning back to Him (v. 40 cf. Hosea 6:1-3).
When Jeremiah was able to place his and his people’s affliction in proper perspective by remembering how it related to God’s character and His covenant relationship, the affliction was not cruel but full of affection from God. Affliction, if discerned properly we may taste His affection towards us. The affliction from above is designed as a corrective measure to restore us to our old glory (cf. Deut. 30:1-10).
It is quite interesting to see the shift taking place from the second part to the third part.
Verse 40 – Let us examine our ways and test them.
Let us return to the Lord.
Verse 41- Let us lift up our Hearts and Hands to God in Heaven.
Jeremiah’s Prayer
The circumstances and condition of the prophet Jeremiah (vv.1-18) and the character and covenant of God (vv.19-40) prompted Jeremiah to pray (vv.41-66). This prayer has two parts: Confession (vv.41-47) and Remembering God’s Deliverance (vv.48-66). The first part was written in the plural (we, us, and our); the second part (I, me, and my). A great prayer indeed!



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