Read Lamentations Three
These few verses about God’s character in chapter three are full of wonder and awe. We easily stand back with a bit of relief and say, “Yes! This is the truth we’ve been waiting to hear!”
But the reality is this: the poet is in the middle of his suffering. There is no circumstantial relief on the horizon. He still finds his feet in the land of exile. His situation has not changed. Not one little bit.
If you were in Israel’s situation, what would your internal response be to hearing these truths from someone else?
We are quick to write off the encouragement of others when we are in the midst of our suffering. We nod our heads and roll our eyes a bit – yeah, yeah, God is good, we mumble to ourselves. In suffering, it is incredibly difficult to receive the truth, to embrace the reality of who God is.
Why do you think this is? In your own life, what character trait has kept you from receiving with joy the reminders of God’s character?
I think this is why it is so important for our study that we remember the willful act of verse 21: “This I cause to return to my heart!” These truths are self-insisted, they are deliberately chosen, and they are intentionally embraced. When we are struggling and suffering, we hear the truth of God’s character often best from our own lips, because when we speak truth, we often cannot help but embrace it.
Look back at verse 22. Do you remember what is unique about the use of God’s name in this verse and its place in the book as a whole?
Remembering that this is the first time the name YHWH has been used in the book of Lamentations, we suddenly see the power of God’s name. God’s name powerfully emanates who God is. There is power in speaking the name of God, even and especially in our darkest hour. The name of God cannot be spoken without a flood of memories coming with it – who He is, how He’s been faithful in the past, and His generosity towards us. It was true for the Man of Suffering and it is true for you and me. The name of God is packed with divine power for each and every one of us struggling to believe. Speak His name, brothers and sisters, and as you hear it on your own lips, remember who He is. Trust Him to be faithful again.
I want to encourage you to consider doing some application today. If you are currently in a situation of suffering, I encourage you to write out a list of God’s names and His attributes. Read them aloud. Be deliberate about what you cause to return to your heart. Confess with your lips that you believe He is who He says He is. Ask God to work this truth into the depth of your heart.
If you are not currently in a place of suffering, I encourage you to make a similar list of God’s names and His attributes. Read them aloud, and then tuck them in your Bible. Save the list for yourself for a time of suffering or grief. And when the day comes, as we are each assured that it will in this earthly life, pull the list out. Deliberately turn your heart toward God. Ask God to embed the truth of His unchanging character deep in your heart.
PRAY & REFLECT
Confess to God that He is unchanging. Thank Him for His never-failing, never-giving-up love for you. Ask Him to help you to speak His name when you are suffering or struggling. Confess to Him that there is power in the name of Christ and thank Him for that.