Read Lamentations Three
The people have not yet repented of their sin, and God has not yet forgiven them. BUT, there is yet hope … because God did not forgive in the simple perfect tense (past event), but in the imperfect tense (past event with ongoing results).
Read Lamentations 3:43-51. What is the prophet describing?
What stands out to you?
How are these verses related to those we considered yesterday?
The people are reaping the consequences of their sin. The prophet, once again, is recounting the devastation of his people. Jerusalem has been conquered. There is a very good chance that this is being written while the city is still smoldering from her enemies! As the people are being placed in chains and carried into exile, the prophet is penning these words, recounting the far-reaching effects of their rebellion against God.
Read verse 44. Why do you think the prophet says God will not hear their prayers?
What is in view here is not a theological reality, but an experiential one. The prophet knows his national history. Israel was gifted the temple by God – a temple that allowed them to come into His presence, offer sacrifices for sin, and have their prayers heard. And they would not follow His commands to meet with Him in the temple according to His law, and their temple has now been destroyed. Their hope of being heard by God was in the temple, and now it is no more than a pile of rubble.
These few verses remind us what it means to grieve. Lament is not a tidy process. We wish that we could cap the entire book of Lamentations just a few verses earlier when the prophet is proclaiming God’s good and steadfast love that will eternally be a part of His character! It’s easy to want to lop off the rest of the book, pushing it aside for its messiness and theologically confusing bits. But what we see here in the second half of chapter three is the reality of grief: we can hold simultaneously the good character of God in hand with our own suffering from sin. We can know that sin is our past and that forgiveness is on the horizon, while still sitting in a current situation of grief and pain. And this is where the prophet finds himself: knee-deep in the consequences of sin.
How does the messiness of the prophet’s own repentance give you comfort as you grieve in your life?
What paradoxes of faith have you experienced in lament? What good attributes of God’s can you praise, even while you know that your own restoration is yet ahead?
You and I have the blessings and benefits of living this side of the cross. God does not wrap Himself in a cloud so that He doesn’t hear our prayers, but He has given us His Spirit to live inside us. God will no more reject the person in Christ than He will reject His own Spirit! If you are in Christ, Christian, God will hear your prayers. And the first prayer He longs to hear from His wayward children is a prayer of repentance.
Is there a prayer of repentance that God is calling you to pray today? Is there something in your life He would call you to test and examine? Is He calling you to return and lift, as we saw earlier in the week?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that salvation is yours in Christ. Thank Him for giving you His Spirit to live inside you. Praise Him that forgiveness is readily available to you in Jesus. Ask Him to lead you into repentance wherever there is ongoing sin in your life.