Read Lamentations 3:33–66
Jeremiah spent 40 years warning Jews that God’s judgment would come unless they repented, but his pleas were ignored. As a result, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jeremiah‘s beloved Jerusalem, the “City of Peace.” The ruins left behind provided a graphic picture of what can happen because of disobedience.
In the middle of that heartache, Jeremiah remembered three attributes of God’s character that provide comfort for us during times of hardship:
- God is just (vv.33-36). He is not a cosmic sadist who loves to inflict pain on helpless creatures. He disciplines us, not because He likes to watch us suffer, but because He wants the best for us. He loves us too much to do less (Hebrews 12:7-11).
- God is sovereign (vv. 37-38). Even though God does not cause evil (Habakkuk 1:13a; James 1:13-17), He can use both prosperity and adversity for our good (Romans 8:28).
- God is holy (vv. 39-44). Any punishment we experience for wrongdoing is well deserved. The Lord cannot ignore sin. The Jews learned the hard way that God will not tolerate sin – especially if it comes from believers.
With this in mind, we need to remember these important principles from this passage:
When we find ourselves in “the pit,” we need to examine our own lives and return to God. He will not respond to prayer as long as we “regard iniquity in our hearts” (Psalm 66:18). However, when we turn to Him in repentance, “He is faithful and righteous and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness“ (1 John 1:9).
When we come across others who are in “the pit,” we should offer to help them. A helping hand, a listening ear, or a sympathetic embrace goes a long way toward lessening the pain someone else experiences. “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived” (Galatians 6:1-3 MSG).
Finally, the more we know God, the better equipped we are to weather the storms of life. When we really understand who He is and how He relates to us, it will ease our own pain and provide us with hope not only for today, but for eternity.