If we can encourage others, we should encourage them.
~Romans 12:8

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lamentations 3 Exposed

I was scheduling posts for Twitter and I wanted some encouraging verses. Lamentations 3 popped into my head, so I looked it up to see what verse to post. I know Lamentations doesn't seem like a good place to find encouragement; after all it's a bunch of lamenting and wailing, right? When I was younger I used to question some of the books of the bible. Books like Lamentations and parts of Ecclesiastes seemed dark and depressing. Why would You put that in there Lord? But if you keep on living, and if you go through enough; you learn to appreciate even some of those dark passages.

It is widely believed that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations, and he was one whom had God's calling on him while he was still in the womb [Jeremiah 1:5]. If a great prophet like that can get to the point where he'd lost all hope of God doing anything for him, then anyone can. But thank God, Jeremiah was resilient, and again found his hope in the Lord.

Sometimes I examine parallel translations of the Bible and compile a chapter or segment that captures the essence of the scripture. Following is my exposition of Lamentation 3, composed of different translations, but all right from the Bible. It's about Israel's relationship with God. I hope it blesses you, and makes you think.

Lamentations 3

Hope in the Lord’s Faithfulness 

1  I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God, who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger..
2  He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light;
3  And beat me again and again with merciless blows.
4  He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones.
5  He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish.
6  He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death.
7  He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape.
8  I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen; 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 He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion.
11 He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me.
12 He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He shot his arrows deep into my heart.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.
15 Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink.
16 He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on rocks.
17 I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity, health and peace and happiness are.
18 I do not have much longer to live; my hope in the Lord is gone. So I say, “My strength has perished And so has my hope and expectation from the Lord.”
19 The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison.
20 I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.

21 Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
22 It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail. The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue,
23 They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

24 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.
“The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul; “Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who depend on Him, who wait for Him, who trust in Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word].
26 It is good to hope and wait patiently for the LORD's salvation. It is good to wait patiently for deliverance from the LORD.

27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline:
28 Let him sit alone [in hope] and keep quiet, Because God has laid it on him [for his benefit].
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust [in recognition of his unworthiness]; There may yet be hope.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.
31 For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
32 Even if he makes us suffer, though he causes grief, he will have compassion According to His abundant lovingkindness and tender mercy.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.
34 The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison; when any of the prisoners of the earth are crushed underfoot,
35 He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us; He knows when a person's rights are perverted in defiance of the Most High.
36 When justice is perverted in court, he knows.  When a man is thwarted in his appeal, does the Lord condone it?
37 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? The will of the Lord alone is always carried out.
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both adversity (misfortune) and good (prosperity, happiness) proceed? Good and evil alike take place at his command.
39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?

40 Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord.
41 Let us open our hearts and lift up our hands to God in heaven and pray,
42 “We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O Lord, have not forgiven us.
43 "You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy. “You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger,
44 By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through.
45 You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations. You have made us the garbage dump of the world.
46 “We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies.
47 We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear.
48 My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people.
49 “My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream
50 Until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees us.
51 My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city.
52 “I was hunted down and trapped like a bird by enemies I have never harmed, who had no cause to hate me.
53 They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone.
54 Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near.
55 “From the bottom of the pit, O Lord, I cried out to you,
56 And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard.
57 You came near when I called you, You answered me and you said, “Do not fear.”

58 “You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life. O Lord, you championed my cause, you redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, LORD. Be my judge, and prove me right.

Lord I am grateful because even though there may be times when I feel forsaken, there is always hope. Help me not to dwell on my losses, but on Your great faithfulness. Remind me that even though there may be seasons when it seems like You are silent, when I call You will answer, and come to my rescue.

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