40, 41 Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
Lamentations 3 is about a man who has experienced affliction. He has endured suffering and experienced God's faithfulness and responded to God's sovereignty and goodness by praying for renewal He has confidence in God's concern for him and desires to teach others what he has learned.
Affliction is the normal lot of life. God is a jealous God, and He wants His children to love Him and obey Him and follow Him and serve Him. When we go astray, which we are prone to do, He lovingly corrects us.
- suffer affliction
- endure physical pain
- are burdened with the cares of life
- have no escape
- are often desolate
- feel trapped
- are a laughingstock
- has afflicted us
- is like a bear ready to attack
- is like a lion ready to pounce
- has filled us with bitterness
- loves us steadfastly
- renews His mercies every morning
- is good
- has compassion
- repays and pursues our assailants
The only One we can turn to in our affliction, no matter what it is, is the God who afflicts us in the first place. He sees us going astray, living selfishly, taking His gifts for granted, and He reacts in love. He encompasses us, and blocks our way, stopping us from following a destructive path. He teaches us about His grace and His faithfulness.
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
My heart was full of thoughts of the Lord's faithfulness, no matter what afflictions or joys I am experiencing. Then I turned to the 8th chapter of Romans, and was reminded...
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
No condemnation. Not a bit. NONE. God righteously condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son to pay the price for sin. All of it! All of my sin was paid for and I was adopted into the Family of God. No longer a slave, I am a child of God and an heir with Christ.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:15-17 ESV)
(This is a free gift offered to all who realize they are lost and without hope. Anyone who realizes that he is indeed a sinner who is accountable to God for the deeds done in the body can cast himself on the mercy of God and look to Jesus for salvation.)
I am a child of God who is never separated from the love of my Father. NOTHING condemns me; NOTHING separates me from the love of Christ.
Yet it's a given that I will suffer. I will endure things like tribulation and distress, persecution and famine, nakedness and danger and sword. You will, too.
The tribulation could be as small as a misunderstanding between family members or as great as a diagnosis of cancer. The distress could be a life-changing car accident, or a friend's move overseas. Persecution could be from a creditor, or from someone who mocks you because you are a Christian. Famine could be a lack of something you desire - something you have longed for in your life for years and years and interminable years. The sword could mean death - or it could be the piercing of your heart when your child turns his back on your teaching and walks away.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18 ESV)
Do you see that? Your sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us some day, if we are children of the Living God. Not only do you walk with God today... not only are you assured of His steadfast love that never fails no matter what you are going through, God will show us His glory some day. What a glorious day that will be.
Meanwhile, we walk by the Spirit, with His help and His guidance. We know that everything He sends our way is meant for our good. We know that in the middle of the tribulation and the distress and the famine and the nakedness and the sword, He is loving us and helping us and groaning with us.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:26-28 ESV)
Christ loves us. He sends us into tribulation, and He loves us. He gives distress, and He loves us. He lets us be persecuted, and He loves us. He sees us regarded by enemies as sheep to be slaughtered (helpless to avoid their fate) and He loves us. He has compassion on us. His mercies are new every morning.
Christian, live in the light of that love. NOTHING can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. NOTHING.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)