The Lamentations of Jeremiah is not a book we “enjoy” reading. But do we only read those things that give a positive message and we find encouraging? Actually there are some gems hidden among this prophet’s words of despair and distress. The first 2 chapters are about how God’s anger with Jerusalem finally overflows into action; his mercy toward the people of His Holy City finally comes to an end, his judgments are poured out. Is our world today going to be a parallel to this? His word is available in all languages – yet is largely ignored – or scoffed at?
The emphasis in just about everything the churches say is that we serve a God of love, that this is the total focus of God’s character. There is little or no thought that his anger could be poured out today on an increasingly godless world. But twice it happened to God’s holy city – Jerusalem; they were terrifying times.
In today’s chapter 3, Jeremiah suddenly expresses his own feelings, his own experience of overwhelming personal despair, “though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer” (v.8) That reminds us of the final words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Yet in his Lamentations, as with David’s Psalms, what begins with despairing thoughts, gets replaced by more positive ones. See how Jeremiah lifts his mind to a higher plain, “but this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (v.21). Then come the words that have been made into a much loved hymn about the mercies of God “they are new every morning: great is your faithfulness” (v.23) Next he writes, The LORD is good to those who wait for him … who seek him” (v.25) Will the Lord have reason to be good to you?
In conclusion, take special note of v. 27 … it is good for us to bear the yoke in our youth! Bearing the yoke? If when we are young our lives are easy, there are no problems, no challenges, nothing to make us anxious; it will be hard to develop a good character; worse still, we will have little inclination toward being yoked to Jesus Christ and to carry his cross (meditate on John 15 v.18-19). It may be the lot of those who are truly yoked to Christ to follow in the footsteps of Jeremiah to some degree.