Praying Through the Bible #88
TEXT: Lamentations 3
Over the past few weeks, we have looked at the subject of prayer from passages in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah, a prophet of God, predicted that God’s judgment would come down on the nation of Judah because of their continued sins. Jeremiah was faithful in his task of warning the people of Judah, but they didn’t listen, and God’s judgment came. After Jerusalem fell, Jeremiah composed a new series of messages, and that is what we are learning from today — the book of Lamentations. Whereas Jeremiah is a book of “warning,” Lamentations is a book of “mourning.” Lamentations shows us Jeremiah’s words after the punishment that God had promised finally came.
If you are a child of God, it is likely that you will find yourself in the same situation as the children of Israel at least once or twice in your life, for the Bible says, ‘whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, even as a son in whom his father delighteth.’ The question we want to address tonight is how we should pray when we are being chastised by God. We will be spending the next few weeks in Lamentations chapter 3 because this passage of mourning gives us 12 specific insights into how we should respond when we are being chastised by God.
During chastisement, you may experience some of the feelings described by Jeremiah in this passage. Jeremiah says that he had seen affliction by the rod of God’s wrath. The children of Israel felt that God had surely turned against them. When they cried and shouted, they felt like God was shutting out their prayers. Have you ever been there? They felt like God had placed a bull’s eye on them and they were being made target practice for the arrows of divine judgement. Jeremiah metaphorically describes God as a lion and a bear lying in wait to pounce on His people. Today, we would say that it seems like someone just has it out for us.
Have you ever experienced these feelings toward God? Have you ever been on the receiving end of divine wrath? Perhaps you are experiencing it right now. If so, allow me to show you from this passage how to respond. If not, still listen closely, because you might need this advice one day in the future.
1. Pray with the understanding that God is still in control. Notice the use of the pronoun “he” in this passage. Jeremiah says, “He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.”
2. Remember that, in God, you have strength and hope. In the midst of this period of chastisement, Jeremiah says, “My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance.”
3. Realize that if you are still alive, God is showing you mercy. In verse 22, Jeremiah says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” The truth is, if we were to receive the real amount of justice that is due us for our sins, you and I would be dead right now because the Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” Even the slightest infraction against God’s holiness demands death as punishment.
Don’t be discouraged by the chastisement you experience from God. Don’t let these experiences cause you to stop praying. God is still in control. God is still the source of your hope and strength. And because you are alive, you know that God is still showing you mercy.