Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
I say, “The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the person who seeks him.
It is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is still young.
Let him sit alone and be silent,
for God has disciplined him.
Let him put his mouth in the dust—
perhaps there is still hope.
Let him offer his cheek
to the one who would strike him;
let him be filled with disgrace.
For the Lord
will not reject us forever.
Even if he causes suffering,
he will show compassion
according to the abundance of his faithful love.
For he does not enjoy bringing affliction
or suffering on mankind.
The wrath of God is often a difficult concept to ponder. We like a God who is loving at all times and have difficulty wrapping our minds around the idea that God can also have a wrathful side. We want God to be Santa Clause, going around merrily handing out gifts to all us (mostly) good boys and girls. Wrath congers up images of a vindictive gangster boss carrying out extraordinary punishment on subordinates for the smallest of failures. The two images are hard to reconcile with one another in our minds. Perhaps this is because we have an incomplete understanding of both love and judgment.
When we read Jeremiah’s Lamentations, it is hard not to see God as vengeful and mean. Jeremiah doesn’t have this view, though. He sees God as being righteous, merciful, and loving above all else. This comes out very clearly in this section of the third lament. The person represented by this lament has suffered greatly and sees it as God’s punishment on his own actions. In the midst of the punishment, though, he still has confidence in God’s love, mercy, and compassion. He realizes that the pain of his current suffering is only for a season and will not last forever.
There are times that God allows us to experience the natural consequences of our bad decisions. Not all suffering is caused by our own decisions but, when it is, it does not mean that God is being vengeful and angry at us. His love for us still outweighs his wrath. The suffering we are experiencing is for our own growth and will help us make better decisions in the future. Like a loving parent who doesn’t rescue their child from the consequences of every bad choice, God is allowing us to learn from the experience. In those times, we should silence ourselves, listen, and see what God is trying to teach us through this time of suffering.
- Do you take the time to listen to what God may be trying to teach you through times of suffering?