New mercies each morning!
Scripture reading for August 18th: Lamentations 1-5
Do you enjoy funerals? How about mourning and wailing over the dead? Well, this next short book of Jeremiah is a series of five funeral songs about the death of Jerusalem and the captivity of God’s people. As a pastor, this book is helpful to gain insight into the process of grief and helping families and individuals deal with death and loss. Grief takes time and energy to process. Mourning people go through stages ranging from disbelief and shock, to mourning and wailing, blaming others or God, to quiet acceptance and finally readiness to move on. These stages may take various amounts of time to process and work through. God understands our grief and sorrows for Jesus was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. (Isaiah 53:3)
Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he had a tender heart of compassion for God’s people. (Lamentations 1:16) He had warned them faithfully of the coming judgment and destruction of Jerusalem. He had witnessed this destruction and now was writing to chronicle the grief process going on in his heart. Jeremiah was a lot like Jesus Christ, who also wept over the city of Jerusalem as He saw prophetically the destruction that was to come upon it for their rejection of Him as their Messiah. (Matthew 23:37-39) God values tears so much that the Psalmist said He gathers them up in a bottle and records them on a scroll. (Psalm 56:8) Tears are a sign of caring and compassion and they were modeled by Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb and again over Jerusalem.
In Lamentations 3, the prophet is recounting his misery and pain and describes it with images that bring Isaiah 53 and the crucifixion to mind. In the middle of his rant, he turns his thoughts to hope! (Lamentation 3:20-21) The cause of this hope is the thought of God’s steadfast love and great compassion and mercy. Jeremiah states that this mercy is “new every morning” and that “great is God’s faithfulness”. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Because God is Jeremiah’s portion, he will wait for the Lord. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him and put their hope in Him! It is truly God’s mercy that gives us hope and leads us to repentance! (Romans 2:4) His unfailing love and compassion will come through for those in deep grief!
This funeral lament ends with words of faith and hope and a prayer. God is sovereign and reigns forever. He will have compassion and restore them as they pray. Take a moment and offer a prayer of thanksgiving and trust in the Lord and His compassion for you today. His Son Jesus Christ wept over us and bore our sorrows and tears that we might live in the joy of His love and receive new mercies every morning!
“You, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.” Lamentations 5:19-22