Where there is sin, God must punish.
But where there is repentance, God must forgive!
Reading straight through the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations takes us on a tumultuous ride through much of Israel and Judah’s sad history. Their story, spread out over decades of poor living and lousy choices, is staggering. But seeing it truncated into a record that can be read in a couple hours leaves you weak and troubled.
God warned his people through many prophets over many years. ‘Repent or be disciplined’ was his constant message. He used illustrations whose points could not be misinterpreted. He pled with immense passion. Consequences were forthcoming as surely as the sun would come up the next day.
We eventually reap what we’ve sown and it was certainly true with God’s judgment. Famine, disease and war decimated the nation. People were exiled to be ruled by those who despise them. Families were torn apart, never to see each other again.
It’s painful to read. We’ve read the story. We know what is coming.
Yet when Godly discipline is administered it will be followed by lavish love. The offender seldom sees it coming. We never left a son alone after a correction without reminding him of our unchanging love.
And that’s what struck me as I came to Lamentations chapter three. We’ve never seen the prophet as broken and dismayed. Yet in this low place, looking up imploringly to see the bottom of his life, he is not done with his discoveries.
He speaks for those under the burden of discipline. Emotions include hopelessness, sorrow and humiliation. What’s next, he ponders.
This week you may need to revel in the following verses. What comes next is always a shock to the system. Jeremiah is reminded of God’s love and intentions. His words wash over the past failures, bringing the sunrise of hope after a long, dark night.
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself,
“The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Lamentations 3:22-24 New Living Translation