Lamentation 3:19-33 & John 16:32-33

Prophet Jeremiah said in verses 19-20, “The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.” Rev. Eugene Peterson who wrote, “The Message Version of the Bible” translated these verses like this, “I will never forget the trouble, the utter lost-ness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all, oh, how well I remember, the feeling of hitting the bottom.” Have you ever felt like this in your life? May be lots of people in Texas and Louisiana feel this way. May be some of you feel this way, as you think about the future of our church. How about many people who lost their loved ones in Spain through terrorist attack!

This was how Jeremiah described his sadness and broken heart while he was watching the fall of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylon. Although he tried so hard to warn God’s people to turn away from the idol worship, not to listen to the false prophets, trusting and depending on God alone, instead of depending on the foreign country like Egypt, they did not listen to the Word of God they had heard from the prophet Jeremiah. They even threw God’s prophet into a dry pit and attacked him. As a result, God used the Babylonian King Nebugarnezzar to punish the Israelites.

*TURNING POINT: Verse 21 (Hopeless –> Hopeful)
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.” What did Jeremiah remember?

Remembering the Love of God, Mercy, and Faithfulness
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv.22-23). Sing this contemporary song!

Seeking and Waiting for God’s Help
Jeremiah said in verse 24, “The Lord is my portion” says my soul, therefore I will have hope in him.” It means that we are saying, “God is all we’ve got left. Jeremiah also said in verses 25-28, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord . . . to sit alone in silence.” When we face challenges and trials in our lives, we can easily be discouraged or complain. But our Bible tells us to seek God’s help and wait silently.

Having the Right Attitudes
When people experience difficulties, they can respond in many different ways. Some deny their realities. Some begin to blame others, like Adam and Eve. Some people fall into severe depression, like Elijah. Others worry so much and became sick physically and do nothing because they believe that nothing or no one can actually turn their situation around. In today’s text, we can see how Jeremiah accepted his difficulties in responsible and humble attitude. He said in verses 29-30, “to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope), to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.” Eugene Peterson interpreted these verses like this, “Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.” I remember how king David demonstrated this kind of attitude while he was running away from his son Absalom who tried to kill him. When a guy name Shimei cursed king David, one of the David’s generals, Abishai wanted to kill this guy. He asked king David, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjamite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may that the Lord will look on my distress, and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today” (2 Samuel 16:11-12).

Trials can be the channel of God’s Blessings
Jeremiah said verses 31-33, “For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” God does not enjoy or takes pleasure in making our lives hard or in throwing roadblocks in our ways. God used the Babylonian Army to discipline his people. God allowed the national crisis to the Israelites to help them to grow and mature. How about Jonah? God did not bring storms and let him be thrown in the waging sea, and let him be swallowed up by a big fish, just because God enjoyed watching Jonah suffer. No! God did it to help Jonah to become a person who can obey His words and to accomplish His will through Jonah which is to save many sinners in the City of Ninevah.

In Christ, we can overcome any difficult circumstances
Jesus told his disciples, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it — saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world “(John 16:32-33). When Jesus announced that he would suffer and die on the cross, all of his disciples abandoned him to save their own lives. But Jesus was not abandoned because God was with him while he was going through all those suffering and was accomplishing God’s will. Of course, God conquered the evil by raising him from the grave. In the Gospel of John, Jesus was assuring his disciples that they would never be abandoned even though they would experience constant troubles and persecutions. They would also be able to conquer all of their challenges and hardship as long as they remain in Christ.

Now, let us go back to the beginning! Many people are suffering in Texas and Louisiana because of Hurricane Harvey. Our church is suffering with lack of worship attendance and finance. How should we respond to these difficult realities? According to Jeremiah, we should remember the steadfast love of the Lord, His mercies and faithfulness. We should seek God’s help and wait on him silently. We should take the responsibility for our trouble instead of worrying or blaming others. We can persevere our difficult circumstances by admitting our sins and putting our hope in God’s compassion. God never enjoys our sufferings even though he allows human sufferings. As a matter of fact, he often uses our suffering to make us stronger, purer, and more usable. So we can see our difficult circumstance as a blessing from God. Most of all, I want us to hold on the Word of Jesus, “In this world, you will have troubles, take heart, I have overcome the world.”

“God will make a way” by Don Moen
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way
Oh, God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way
By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and Earth will fade but His Word will still remain
And He will do something new today
Oh, God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will make a way . . . !