July 3

Lamentations 3, Psalm 29

Every day we must choose what we are going to focus on, are we going to focus on the problem, or the solution.  When we undergo difficult trials many question whether God really cares or understands our plights.  It is times like this when people start questioning the fairness of God.  There is a short story by John Stott, called "The Long Silence" which captures this.  The story is set before God's throne where groups of individuals levy their complaint against God as to how He can possibly judge them.  Each sends forth an individual who has suffered greatly to present their case before God.  They choose a Jewish woman killed in a Nazi concentration camp, a slave who was lynched, one killed in Hiroshima, a deformed arthritic and a thalidomide deformed child.  They conclude that before God could be qualified to be their judge, He must endure what they endured.  They decided that God should be sentenced to live on earth, as a man.  "Let Him be born a Jew.  Let the legitimacy of His birth be doubted.  Give Him a work so difficult that even His family will think Him out of His mind when He tries to do it.  Let Him be betrayed by His closest friends.  Let Him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge.  Let Him be tortured.  At last, let Him see what it means to be terribly alone.  Then let Him die.  Let Him die so that there can be no doubt that He died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it."  After each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.  "And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence.  No one uttered another word.  No one moved.  For suddenly all knew that God had already served His sentence."

After 2 1/2 chapters in Lamentations with Jeremiah focusing on the problem, he abruptly switches his thoughts and finds hope when he focuses on the solution.  His situation hadn't changed but his perspective did.  In the midst of his misery he writes in Lam. 3:22-23, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."  In the verses which follow we see a shift in mindset, Jeremiah realizes it is good to wait for Him, to seek Him, to hope for Him, to draw near to Him.  He realizes in Lam. 3:32 that, "Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies."

Hal Lindsey said, "Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air...but only for one second without hope." The people being persecuted in Judah were being done so as a result of their own sin.  Jeremiah was being persecuted as a trial to bring him closer to God.  When we are undergoing trials and tribulations, we should honestly reflect and seek why.  We should adopt the heart of David in Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting."  Jeremiah in Lam 3:27 says, "It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth."  Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 tells those of us who are burdened to take His yoke upon ourselves and He will lead us through any situation.  Whether the situation is illness, death of a loved one, a prodigal child, loss of job or finances, etc. if we allow ourselves to be yoked to Jesus we will not only persevere but will find ourselves stronger at the end of the trial.  Through the process we will find ourselves doing as James instructed in James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you...".  Jesus is always our hope and our solution.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster