Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 4, 2016

Faith, Hope, Love and ….Anguish

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Lamentations 3:22-27

To understand Lamentations 3:22-27 we should at least try to grasp the despair of Jeremiah when he wrote this. The greatest artists have given us a visual picture of what the Lament of Jeremiah must have looked like. Michelangelo painted Jeremiah in his anguish on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

 

For me Rembrandt’s painting of Jeremiah helps to best put Lamentations 3:22-27 in perspective. If you can just look at the painting for a moment click here

In this painting you see very clearly the anguish on Jeremiah’s face. But faded in the background is the burning Jerusalem city and the suffering King Zedekiah. Read these seven verses (Jeremiah 39:1-7) about the unthinkable events at the fall of Jerusalem.

 

If you looked at that paining of Jeremiah’s face and read the events in Jeremiah chapter 39 then I think you have the context of Lamentations 3:22-27. If I just say there is hope in the darkness then I have not really told you about the whole picture. The faith, hope and love of God is there for sure, but you have to really sift through pages of Jeremiah’s lament to find this buried in the middle of the book.

Lamentations 3:22-27

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,     for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning;     great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;  therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly   for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke  while he is young. 

People comment on these verses, the most well-known verses of Lamentations as if Jeremiah is all victorious and joyful with God’s love. They say Jeremiah did not let the circumstances get him down. Jeremiah was down and he was depressed. To only see the faith, hope and compassion of God glosses over the rest of the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah was down but he did not lose sight of the great love and faithfulness of God.

These verses are about acknowledging the love of God in direst of times. If it were not for the love of God Jeremiah would be consumed. He was beaten and thrown in prison for faithfully speaking the truth. (Jeremiah 37: 16). In this horrible prison situation Jeremiah watched the unfolding of the royal line to the throne cut. The promise of the righteous king of the line of David has just been dashed to pieces. Jeremiah had nothing else to hold on to but the love and faithfulness of God. Every morning the love and compassion of God is renewed even in the worst unbearable situation.

It is amazing that all the difficulties did not blind Jeremiah to the great faithfulness of God. He trusted in God and for the salvation of the Lord. Even John the Baptist had to ask for reassurance that Jesus really was the Christ when John faced the pressure of being in prison. That Jeremiah can keep his perspective in God in the circumstances he experienced is amazing.

There was something else good happening as a result of the great faithfulness of God, but Jeremiah would not have been aware of it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been recently carried off to Babylon along with Daniel. Jeremiah wrote “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young” (verse 27). These young men were bearing the yoke and standing for God. The four of them resolved not to defile themselves come what may. Jeremiah could see a lot of things from his prison cell writing this book but he could not see that. But still he knew God is faithful.

The picture at the top of this study is of Jeremiah’s Grotto. I took the picture when I went to visit the place of the skull, Golgotha the site of Jesus crucifixion. Almost in passing the guide said do you see that building to the right. He said, that is Jeremiah’s Grotto where Jeremiah was held in a prison cell and wrote the book of Lamentations when the city was in siege.

There are all kinds of thoughts that flood through my mind of Jeremiah looking at Golgotha, Calvary the place Jesus would be crucified when he wrote this lamentation. OK I am very aware that we cannot be sure of the exact locations of so many of the Bible sites including exactly where Jeremiah was in prison when he wrote lamentations.

But even though it is not sure this was the spot I am going to hang on to this one. It is just too cool if Jeremiah who wrote brilliant prophesies about the coming Messiah had a prison cell with a Calvary view. Even if he could not really see the place of the skull from his cell we do know for sure he had a prophet’s view of Calvary in his heart while he was in the cell. Jeremiah had the vision of the messianic hope.

The purported sight of Jeremiah’s prison cell is also thought to be the site where Stephen was martyred. It would be another very cool parallel, but that is a Faith, Hope, Love and ….Anguish study for another time.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. New every morning. Great is thy faithfulness Oh Lord. Great is thy faithfulness. *

*Lyrics of Lamentations 3:22-23 The Steadfast Love of the Lord by Dave Hunt

 

 

 

 

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