September 4: Lessons out of Unwanted Experiences

Read Lamentations 1:1-22

You may know people who only seem to complain. No matter what is happening around them, they always seem to find the negative and express it through their grumbling. They are no fun to be around.

Unless you understand the historical context for the book of Lamentations, you might draw the conclusion that its author is one such person. Before you make that assumption, let’s gain some historical perspective.

The tribes of Judah (centered around Jerusalem) had turned away from God. God used prophets like Jeremiah to call them to repentance and to warn them of imminent judgment if they did not turn back to Him. In her stubborn rebellion, Judah did not turn, and true to His promise, God used the Babylonians to bring judgment in the form of destruction and exile culminating in 586 b.c.

As one left behind in Jerusalem, the author (historically thought to be Jeremiah) wrote this candid description of conditions in the capital city and of the thoughts and emotions in his own heart. The book takes both poetic and acrostic form as Jeremiah begins each verse with successive letters of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet.

Jeremiah knew in his heart of hearts the reason for the realities surrounding him. Verses 5, 8, and 9 make clear that God had brought this on Judah because of her sin. Still, he called out to God with a song of repentant lament in verses 11-22.

That is a good model for us to consider. It is possible that the sometimes undesirable circumstances of our lives are the result of our own sinful choices. Sometimes the very things we complain about with finger pointing conviction are really our own fault.

Now, let me temper that thought. We do live in a fallen world where things happen without explanation and identifiable cause. Not everything can be traced back to our own personal sin. Be careful in drawing that conclusion.

Whenever adversity does arise, however, we do well to call out to God like Jeremiah. And we are also wise to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us if there is something to be gleaned from the unwanted experience.


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