When all is Gone: Pray
When all is gone-Pray
“Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; look, and see our reproach!”
The book of Lamentations ends with the only place a person can turn when life turns dark. Like the Psalms of Lament, Jeremiah had cried out to God in the darkest house of Judah’s history. Nevertheless, Jeremiah acknowledged throughout the book that God is just and righteous in his judgment of Israel. In 1:18, Jeremiah affirms that God is righteous in bringing the calamity upon Judah, for Judah has rebelled against His commands. Throughout the Bible, the justice of God is seen both in his forgiveness of sin and his judgment upon those who continue to reject his law.
For God to allow sin to go unpunished would imply that he tolerates and approves evil. The story of the whole Bible is not only of God’s redemption for sinful man but also God’s inevitable judgment for those who reject his word and continue to rebel against him. Furthermore, in the justice of God, he renders to each person the exact punishment they deserve, with no more or no less punishment. No one is punished unjustly for sins they did not commit and punished more severely than their sins deserve. Jeremiah, as he concludes this book in which he has lamented the outpouring of God’s judgment upon the nation and each individual (including himself), he affirms that it is deserved. After recounting the severity of God’s judgment (5:2-15), he demonstrates the righteousness of God by declaring that the distress that came upon them was deserved, “for we have sinned” (verse 16). Because of their sin, their heart is faint, and the city of Jerusalem lies desolate.
So where do we turn when God’s anger is aroused against sin? Where do we turn when the winds of judgment blow against us? The answer lies in 5:1 and 5:19-22. In verse 1, Jeremiah calls upon God to “remember.” This cry does not imply that God has forgotten, but rather it is a call to action, asking God to act again on behalf of the people. It is beseeching God to respond by seeing their reproach and acting on their behalf. This theme is then further highlighted in verses 19-22. Jeremiah concludes by affirming God's sovereign control over the nation. God rules forever upon the throne. Not only is he sovereign, but he is the one who permanently reigns over the earth. He is the constant in a changing world. Because he does not change, neither does his law and his control over the universe.
Jeremiah ends his lament with a cry for mercy. The book starts with the question, “how” (1:1). Now he ends with the question, “Why?” But the question is not asking for God to justify his judgment. Jeremiah has clarified that the judgment is merited because of their sin. The question is, “has their sin been so great that there is no longer any hope for reconciliation” (vs. 22)? The prophets continually warned the people of God’s impending judgment. Yet the people ignored the warnings, and now Jerusalem was in ruins. The only question now is, “Is there any hope?” Recognizing that the judgment is deserved, Jeremiah appeals to the only hope they have, which is for God's mercy and grace. The first step in repentance is to acknowledge that God is just in his judgments. Their only hope is for God to demonstrate his compassion, as Jeremiah acknowledged in 3:23. Thus, he prays for God’s mercy and forgiveness, for only god can restore the nation and renew the prosperity and blessing they experienced at the start of the nation (vs. 21).
The hope for Jeremiah and us is that God’s compassions are new every day, and he always remains faithful to his promise. His justice was satisfied in the substitutionary death of Christ. Nevertheless, his mercy is now available to those that seek him. Thus the only real question to be asked now is, “Will we acknowledge our sin and accept his gift of salvation?” that is the hope for our nation and each of us.