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"Jeremiah's Suffering Faith" (posted October 7, 2018)
The Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.
- Lamentations 3:31-32
In Jeremiah’s Lamentations, the first two chapters mostly describe Jerusalem and its destruction. In chapters 4 and 5 he recalls the grief and anguish of the siege and the consequences of Nebuchadnezzar's final victory. But at the central point of the book of Lamentations, chapter 3, Jeremiah relates especially his own trials, using language which, as in various psalms, can also apply to the sufferings of Christ.
The prophet does not accuse the people and their chiefs of having inflicted on him all the persecutions he endured. Rather, he receives them from the hand of God, saying: "I am the man that has seen affliction by the the rod of His wrath."
He recalls the years spent in the darkness of prison ( vv. 2, 5) and the deprivation of freedom (vv. 7, 9). He remembers the torture that broke his bones (v. 4). He calls to mind the mockeries to which he was subjected: "I am become a derision to all my people, their song all the day" (v. 14). His life was far from peace; he had "forgotten prosperity" (v. 17); all was affliction, wormwood, and gall. "My soul has them constantly in remembrance, and is humbled in me” (v. 20).
How many moments of distress this faithful man of God had to go through! Certainly his career bears some resemblance to the One who would come and be a "man of sorrow and acquainted with grief"-- the One who, more than any other, would be despised and esteemed not.
Yet while Jeremiah remembers all his sufferings, he does not fail to mention the encouragement he received. "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (vv. 21-23). Throughout the centuries these words have sustained the faith of many believers.