The book of Lamentations is about God’s punishment towards His people. This punishment is not referring to the righteous suffering. Instead, it is about a punishment because of sin, unlike the ones in the book of Psalms and Peter.
In Lamentations 3:18-33, Prophet Jeremiah mourns the state of his people and weeping for the wicked people. From verses 39-50, he continues to cry for the suffering of the people of Israel. This will remind us to reflect on our actions, but also be encouraged in the punishment which we deserve.
Lamentations 3:24: “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:18-20: “And I said, 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, and is humbled in me.”
God is our portion, which is why we are supposed to have hope in him despite the discouragement life has thrown at us. We can be saved for years, but still, have such traumatic experiences and affliction edged in our minds.
Lamentations 3:21-22: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”
God tells us to have hope, because He never gives up on us, and His mercy and compassion in us. If it were not for that, God would have wiped us out a long time ago.
The proof of God’s mercifulness is in our very existence. We have lived longer than some of those around us, despite being wretched and wicked in our past. This shows that God will still use us as a testimony of his mercifulness and compassion.
With such realization and understanding, our feeling of depression over the misery of God’s punishment and can then slowly diminish.
Psalms 147:11: “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”
How much do we want to please God?
If we do, then have hope in His mercy. The attitude of self-victimization and wallowing in our pity party because of our sin is not pleasing to God.
We can never be depressed over God’s mercy. On the contrary, it encourages us more and gives us hope to serve God better.
Lamentations 3:23: “They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
This is a representation of God’s mercy that we did not drop dead. His mercy is made anew every morning. It just requires us our repentance and faithfulness in our prayer to be put under the blood of Jesus Christ.
There are days where we may develop this defeatist attitude, thinking our suffering and punishment will never end. Just remember that without patience during tribulation, we cannot have hope.
Romans 5:3-4: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”
Jeremiah also talks about hope in Lamentations 3 while suffering.
Hope does not come immediately, but only with patience and waiting. This is because God wants us to live through and breathe through the suffering to have a strong testimony.
If good people have to wait on the Lord to get their hope at the end, bad people should also wait for as long, if not longer.
Lamentations 3:25-26: “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”
It is good for us to wait on the Lord. This will strengthen our hope in Him, and constantly seeking God to help us. The good thing can only happen when we wait. Let’s be reminded that it is up to us if we choose to wait or to whine.
Lamentations 3:27-28: “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.”
This reminds us to accept and embrace the negative things that happen in our lives, which includes our suffering and just punishment.
Lamentations 3:39: “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?”
No one has the right to complain, especially about the punishment of our sins. If it is justly given to us, then understanding that we deserve it will help us to reduce our feelings of misery. Remember, the Bible teaches a lot about reaping what we sow.
Lamentations 3:30-31: “He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever:”
These verses are in line with the passage about God’s hope, that the punishment that we have to endure will always come to an end, not in our terms; but in God’s terms and timing.
We need to know that it grieves God to punish us, He does not like to do it.
Lamentations 3:40-50: “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction. Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission.Till the Lord look down, and behold from heaven.”
Our repentance and prayer may not be answered the first time. This is why we need to keep weeping and praying to God and ask for His forgiveness until God finally decides to cast out the suffering and punishment in our lives.
It depends on our sincerity and on the situation itself. Just like God took the life of David’s son, not sparing his life, but later on blessing David with the messianic line, not to mention King Solomon too.
Another event was when the wicked people of Nineveh repented to God with sincerity. God withheld His punishment towards them. Even Jonah thought it was unfair of God to do that. Nonetheless, the wicked people’s repentance did not last long, and hence God, later on, wiped the whole city out. This justifies God’s fairness in giving punishment.
Verse 40 means that we need to examine ourselves and find out what sins have we have committed throughout the day, ask God to show us so that we can repent of our sins.
Our God is a just and loving God. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, to have His flesh crucified on the cross, to suffer for our sins when we did not deserve it at all. It comes to show how much God loves us. God will never forsake uås. He wants us to be patient and have hope in Him.