I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
2 he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
3 surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
he has broken my bones;
5 he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
6 he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead of long ago.
7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has made my chains heavy;
8 though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
9 he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
he has made my paths crooked.
10 He is a bear lying in wait for me,
a lion in hiding;
11 he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
he has made me desolate;
12 he bent his bow and set me
as a target for his arrow.
13 He drove into my kidneys
the arrows of his quiver;
14 I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
the object of their taunts all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness;
he has sated me with wormwood.
16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
d the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
l his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new m every morning;
n great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
The passage above is full of wonders. While I cannot say that I have experienced anything near to that of this author, likely Jeremiah. I can say that there are times when loneliness, regret or anxiety have their way with me, and I forget all my hope in God and I have pushed Him off to seem distance–though He is not. In reading, the placement of verses twenty through twenty-six always catch me by surprise. I always know they are there but when I read the entire passage it almost seems as though these verses are an unlikely conclusion to, or change of mind, from what precedes them. But truly, I believe it is these verses unlikeliness and placement that makes them so significant and special.
The author couldn’t more clearly say to me that God alone is my hope. What better hope is there? His love is unceasing, His faithfulness is great, and He is always good. Despite of all my worries, doubts and fears, there is still One who constantly and consistently holds all things together–including my circumstances. Outside my frail frame there is a big picture! God is at work in His kingdom and He is furthering it everyday. And yet, with me, He is my portion. If I will not find my joy in Him, I cannot not find it anywhere.
The laments of His people may come from the lowest of desperation, but He does not withhold his joy from them that take hold of it and remember. I find it so significant that the author asks the Lord to “Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!” And yet, look what God does. It is He who reminds the lamenting one of His goodness. It is so clear that it is never God that needs to do the remembering–it is always me that needs to remember God.
Oh the grace he gives! The joy he gives! Cannot this joy and grace from such an almighty, omnipotent God supersede all sadness and despair from my soul? But of course it can! And of course, it must.Waiting was never meant to be easy, but if it brings me to understand the joy of the Lord to a higher degree, then the waiting itself can only be worth it–and not just worth it, but sweet in that deep relationship with Him.
Oh that the glories and the grace of God would always abound deeply in my heart and mind, resonating deeply in my soul, overflowing into my constant thoughts, finding a channel through my actions, permeating my life so intensely that I can understand no other way in which to live or find happiness.