Lamentations 3:37-39 “Who has spoken and it came to pass,
unless the Lord has commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?”
We all are on a path. The way we view the path we are on can determine the manner in which we travail. Yes, the Journey can be difficult, actually it will be difficult, let’s just be honest about it. For some, life can seem like a joyful walk that meets unexpected challenges, or it can seem like endless drudgery with an occasional bit of happiness mixed in…but mainly drudgery. It seems the world continues to transcend further into darkness each day. If our focus is not balanced according to God’s perspective, we could become disillusioned.
This past week, a long time news anchor for NBC signed off, declaring at the end of his 28 year tenor of his concern for America , “I believe in this place and my love of country I yield to no one. But the darkness on the edge of town has spread to the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It’s now at the local bar, and the bowling alley at the school board in the grocery store.”
If the world is indeed descending into darkness, does this mean we all are along for the ride?
Sure, the reality of an evil world seems to be more prominent than ever before, but the path of the righteous is established by the Lord.
Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.’“
What path do you find yourself on?
Does it make you frustrated when you see someone always bouncing around, full of life and joy? There are times in life when the world seems just a little brighter and times when the darkness seems to overwhelm, the way we view our circumstances can determine our response.
I’ve been reading a short handbook on my lunch breaks called, “Messiology” by George Verwer. George is the founder of Operation Mobilization with over 50 years of ministry under his belt. The title today is in honor of this small, little booklet that is packed with wisdom.
The book of Lamentations seemed like a good place to start when it comes to attitude. The prophet Jeremiah wrote this book of songs and poems not long after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian empire in 586 B.C..
Its purpose was how in the midst of despair, God teaches people that even though disobedience to the Lord results in immense suffering and distress, repentance leads to life. Jeremiah pours out his emotions in compassion, and empathy for God’s nation, as he watches them exiled to a foreign land.
Why So Sad?
I wouldn’t suggest reading Lamentations unless your prepared to feel the sorrow of that time. The rich imagery brings to the surface a failed people who thought forsaking God would have no consequence.
Lamentations 1:7 “Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and wandering all the precious things that were hers from days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, her foes gloated over her; they mocked at her downfall.”
What was it that brought this once great nation down to its knees in shame?
One word: SIN
The breaking of God’s laws is to rebel against His righteousness, and even though everyone sins, this doesn’t justify the action.
There seems to be this social conscience that attempts to justify the individual based off a common thread in society. If everyone is doing it, it must be right; is the twisted thinking of the masses. When the consequence of sin manifests itself through this backward thinking, blame is shifted to everyone else but the one sinning. If enough people carry this thought, the nation suffers under the dread of darkness.
What causes distress among us?
Is it the consequence of sin or is it the consequence of judgement?
Sin has its own recourse, it brings judgement in its own right. The destructive nature of sin is the darkened path of self-indulgence, pride, lust, lying, and host of other sins that are easy to fall into and hard to break.
Lamentations 1:20 “Look, O LORD, for I am in distress; my stomach churns; my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death.”
Sin can seem like fun until the tune has ended and the reality of what you have done comes to fruition.
Consider this before you take that next step toward sin…
Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”
This is the scenario: you have a prospective course of action that you can take and yet your not certain what your actions to follow, whatever path you follow, you should be aware of the consequences.
I’ve learned to consider that for every action there is a consequence. If I ask myself a few questions before I make the decision, it can help keep me from making another error.
- What have I learned from previous mistakes that helps me in making a decision today?
- Am I going to make the same mistake again, hoping for a different outcome?
- Is my decision founded in honoring the Lord or in honoring myself?
The decision you make can have lasting repercussions.
Lamentations 3:1-3 “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
He has led me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me
Time and time again throughout the day.”
Remember the pain and hopelessness that came about from the sins you previously committed, don’t be fooled by the world with a charade of false promises.
A wise approach to a particularly difficult circumstance would be to first pray, then seek godly wisdom. Wisdom can come by way of the Word or through seeking in others. It is in these moments where the strength of the church shines, finding someone who you can trust and has the experience from walking with the Lord can be valuable asset.
A wise mentor will take the Word of God and show you how your circumstances can be directed in righteousness and truth.
Lamentations 3:25-27 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.”
A Good Outlook
The way we see this world is directly connected to our outlook. Do you see it as hopeless, fearful, and lost to what it used to be? Or do you see the world on the scale of God’s sovereign plan as He leads you through it.
The hopelessness we observe in people who have grown frustrated is often because they’ve placed their hope in the world, thinking this is what they must hold onto.
As believers in Christ…this world is not our home. We are aliens here in this strange land, presenting the hope of salvation by way of the gospel and leading others to the cross. The only way for the world to move from darkness is for them to turn to Christ. His abounding love gives new life to all who would seek Him.
Lamentations 5:19-22 “You, O Lord, remain forever;
Your throne from generation to generation.
Why do You forget us forever,
And forsake us for so long a time?
Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old,
Unless You have utterly rejected us,
And are very angry with us!”
As those redeemed from sin we are no longer subjected to sin and so we aren’t bound by the hopelessness of its consequence. Many people are still hopeless and lost, and so we have the command to go and make disciples, sharing with them the hope of salvation. The discouragement of what we see in others who have become disillusioned by the world can be the starting point for bringing life to those who have suffered too long under the world’s doctrine.
Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.”
If we can show them the light of Christ, maybe they too will see the world from a different perspective and have hope. As for you who have been redeemed, go out in joy, be led forth in peace, and the mountains and the hills will break forth in singing before you.(Is. 55:12)