Merciful Complaint Department

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV

God’s mercies are new every morning. They never run out. This seemed like nice poetic words which we sang in my youth – when we prospered and peace (under threats) abounded. Now, as we struggle to see the Lord’s goodness and mercies in the perilous evils of our modern world – we need to know that we know that we know that it is written: The Lord is my portion. This is hope.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Lamentations chapters 1, 2 and through verse 36 of chapter 3 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  The author is not knows, but we do know he survived the destruction of Jerusalem when the Babylonians took it (and set Jeremiah free as we read in Jeremiah).  We cannot begin to understand the horrors the author may have seen. War back then was bloody and rule-less.

I think about Afghanistan.  The women and all females ages 6 and up taken as wives in what is really a pedophiliac sex-slave situation. I think of how quickly the airport in Kabul became a symbol of hope even as innocent lives were lost in the cross fire – and then the images of it burning.  I see it via the internet – I cannot imagine being there. Even here, not having seen firsthand, I lament.

We have read other poems of lamentation in the Bible already – some of them are: Job’s laments to God, Psalms 10, 63, 69, 74 and 79.  These are a form of protest (like if I wrote about how sad Afghanistan is right now – it would be my only way to protest what is happening there). These are a way to share in suffering and process shared emotions. They validate how we feel – not only is this an acceptable prayer to God – But God wants us to go to him and work out our confusion in emotions – it restores dignity in a way that only God can.  Many times our grief is shared by God – and our words to Him become His words to us, like in this book.

Chapters 1-4 are Acrostics or Alphabet Poems where each line in chapters one and two starts with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet of 22 letters. Chapter three is the longest chapter and has 3 verses per letter (and is the center of the book) and takes language from Job and the lament psalms.

Chapter one Jerusalem is a widow and chapter two the fall of Jerusalem and God’s inevitable judgment. And poem three – Israel is a suffering man.

These are poems of complaints. In our modern world – if we lodge a complaint (even if justified) you are labeled a “negative person”. Even if you take the complaint to the correct authority. I met a man the other day who was into self-help and had declared that day to be ‘No Complaint Day’. So, how is that helpful to our mental health? It is NOT like thinking about positive things fix the source of the complaint. Thinking about sunshine and rainbows does not stop the violence in Afghanistan. Keeping my complaint inside me is NOT healthy either.  Same with the pandemic, the robbing of rights and freedom, the herding innocent children though a clinic for a shot when they cannot give informed consent and their parents are not there, and other complaints. 

I can and have told my senator and congressman. They are deaf. Facebook and social media are NOT the world’s complaint department. So who do we cry out to? Who can mourn with us and fix it. Only God. Only our beloved. Only our Father. Our good good Father.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord.” Lam 3:25-26

The best part is we can have a relationship with this compassionate and eternally merciful God – who is the creator and the fixer and in control. He loves us each individually – and comes to our rescue.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: As I promised, this year is full of memory verses that when the enemy comes up against us we can quote: It is written! Just as Jesus did when the devil tempted him. I know I have the victory and I must just stand fast and continue to submit to God… so let us memorize and quote this with authority! So as we submit, we can remind the old devil where he can go!

Matthew 18:18-19

NKJV – “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
NAS – “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”
ESV – “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
AMP – “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth shall have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth shall have [already] been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
NIV – “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will bebound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Lamentations 1:1-3:36 NKJV

Jerusalem in Affliction

How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a [a]slave!

She weeps bitterly in the night,
Her tears are on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers
She has none to comfort her.
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They have become her enemies.

Judah has gone into captivity,
Under affliction and hard servitude;
She dwells among the [b]nations,
She finds no rest;
All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.

The roads to Zion mourn
Because no one comes to the [c]set feasts.
All her gates are desolate;
Her priests sigh,
Her virgins are afflicted,
And she is in bitterness.

Her adversaries have become [d]the master,
Her enemies prosper;
For the Lord has afflicted her
Because of the multitude of her transgressions.
Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.

And from the daughter of Zion
All her splendor has departed.
Her princes have become like deer
That find no pasture,
That [e]flee without strength
Before the pursuer.

In the days of her affliction and roaming,
Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things
That she had in the days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the enemy,
With no one to help her,
The adversaries saw her
And mocked at her [f]downfall.

Jerusalem has sinned gravely,
Therefore she has become [g]vile.
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;
Yes, she sighs and turns away.

Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted!”

10 The adversary has spread his hand
Over all her [h]pleasant things;
For she has seen the nations enter her [i]sanctuary,
Those whom You commanded
Not to enter Your assembly.

11 All her people sigh,
They [j]seek bread;
They have given their [k]valuables for food to restore life.
“See, O Lord, and consider,
For I am scorned.”

12 Is it nothing to you, all you who [l]pass by?
Behold and see
If there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
Which has been brought on me,
Which the Lord has inflicted
In the day of His fierce anger.

13 “From above He has sent fire into my bones,
And it overpowered them;
He has spread a net for my feet
And turned me back;
He has made me desolate
And faint all the day.

14 “The yoke of my transgressions was [m]bound;
They were woven together by His hands,
And thrust upon my neck.
He made my strength fail;
The Lord delivered me into the hands of those whom I am not able to withstand.

15 “The Lord has trampled underfoot all my mighty men in my midst;
He has called an assembly against me
To crush my young men;
The Lord trampled as in a winepress
The virgin daughter of Judah.

16 “For these things I weep;
My eye, my eye overflows with water;
Because the comforter, who should restore my life,
Is far from me.
My children are desolate
Because the enemy prevailed.”

17 Zion [n]spreads out her hands,
But no one comforts her;
The Lord has commanded concerning Jacob
That those around him become his adversaries;
Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.

18 “The Lord is righteous,
For I rebelled against His [o]commandment.
Hear now, all peoples,
And behold my sorrow;
My virgins and my young men
Have gone into captivity.

19 “I called for my lovers,
But they deceived me;
My priests and my elders
Breathed their last in the city,
While they sought food
To restore their life.

20 “See, O Lord, that I am in distress;
My soul[p] is troubled;
My heart is overturned within me,
For I have been very rebellious.
Outside the sword bereaves,
At home it is like death.

21 “They have heard that I sigh,
But no one comforts me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
They are glad that You have done it.
Bring on the day You have [q]announced,
That they may become like me.

22 “Let all their wickedness come before You,
And do to them as You have done to me
For all my transgressions;
For my sighs are many,
And my heart is faint.”

God’s Anger with Jerusalem

How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion
With a cloud in His anger!
He cast down from heaven to the earth
The beauty of Israel,
And did not remember His footstool
In the day of His anger.

The Lord has swallowed up and has not pitied
All the dwelling places of Jacob.
He has thrown down in His wrath
The strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
He has brought them down to the ground;
He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.

He has cut off in fierce anger
Every [r]horn of Israel;
He has drawn back His right hand
From before the enemy.
He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire
Devouring all around.

Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow;
With His right hand, like an adversary,
He has slain all who were pleasing to His eye;
On the tent of the daughter of Zion,
He has poured out His fury like fire.

The Lord was like an enemy.
He has swallowed up Israel,
He has swallowed up all her palaces;
He has destroyed her strongholds,
And has increased mourning and lamentation
In the daughter of Judah.

He has done violence to His [s]tabernacle,
As if it were a garden;
He has destroyed His place of assembly;
The Lord has caused
The appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion.
In His burning indignation He has spurned the king and the priest.

The Lord has spurned His altar,
He has abandoned His sanctuary;
He has [t]given up the walls of her palaces
Into the hand of the enemy.
They have made a noise in the house of the Lord
As on the day of a set feast.

The Lord has [u]purposed to destroy
The wall of the daughter of Zion.
He has stretched out a line;
He has not withdrawn His hand from destroying;
Therefore He has caused the rampart and wall to lament;
They languished together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
He has destroyed and broken her bars.
Her king and her princes are among the [v]nations;
The Law is no more,
And her prophets find no [w]vision from the Lord.

10 The elders of the daughter of Zion
Sit on the ground and keep silence;
[x]They throw dust on their heads
And gird themselves with sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem
Bow their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes fail with tears,
My [y]heart is troubled;
My [z]bile is poured on the ground
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
Because the children and the infants
Faint in the streets of the city.

12 They say to their mothers,
“Where is grain and wine?”
As they swoon like the wounded
In the streets of the city,
As their life is poured out
In their mothers’ bosom.

13 How shall I console[aa] you?
To what shall I liken you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?
What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you,
O virgin daughter of Zion?
For your ruin is spread wide as the sea;
Who can heal you?

14 Your prophets have seen for you
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
To bring back your captives,
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.

15 All who [ab]pass by clap their hands at you;
They hiss and shake their heads
At the daughter of Jerusalem:
Is this the city that is called
‘The perfection of beauty,
The joy of the whole earth’?”

16 All your enemies have opened their mouth against you;
They hiss and gnash their teeth.
They say, “We have swallowed her up!
Surely this is the day we have waited for;
We have found it, we have seen it!

17 The Lord has done what He purposed;
He has fulfilled His word
Which He commanded in days of old.
He has thrown down and has not pitied,
And He has caused an enemy to rejoice over you;
He has exalted the [ac]horn of your adversaries.

18 Their heart cried out to the Lord,
“O wall of the daughter of Zion,
Let tears run down like a river day and night;
Give yourself no relief;
Give [ad]your eyes no rest.

19 “Arise, cry out in the night,
At the beginning of the watches;
Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward Him
For the life of your young children,
Who faint from hunger at the head of every street.”

20 “See, O Lord, and consider!
To whom have You done this?
Should the women eat their offspring,
The children [ae]they have cuddled?
Should the priest and prophet be slain
In the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 “Young and old lie
On the ground in the streets;
My virgins and my young men
Have fallen by the sword;
You have slain them in the day of Your anger,
You have slaughtered and not pitied.

22 “You have invited as to a feast day
The terrors that surround me.
In the day of the Lord’s anger
There was no refugee or survivor.
Those whom I have borne and brought up
My enemies have destroyed.”

The Prophet’s Anguish and Hope

am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
He has led me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me
Time and time again throughout the day.

He has aged my flesh and my skin,
And broken my bones.
He has besieged me
And surrounded me with bitterness and [af]woe.
He has set me in dark places
Like the dead of long ago.

He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out;
He has made my chain heavy.
Even when I cry and shout,
He shuts out my prayer.
He has blocked my ways with hewn stone;
He has made my paths crooked.

10 He has been to me a bear lying in wait,
Like a lion in [ag]ambush.
11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces;
He has made me desolate.
12 He has bent His bow
And set me up as a target for the arrow.

13 He has caused the [ah]arrows of His quiver
To pierce my [ai]loins.
14 I have become the ridicule of all my people—
Their taunting song all the day.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
He has made me drink wormwood.

16 He has also broken my teeth with gravel,
And [aj]covered me with ashes.
17 You have moved my soul far from peace;
I have forgotten [ak]prosperity.
18 And I said, “My strength and my hope
Have perished from the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the [al]gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And [am]sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I 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 hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him;
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust—
There may yet be hope.
30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,
And be full of reproach.

31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict [an]willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.

34 To crush under one’s feet
All the prisoners of the earth,
35 To turn aside the justice due a man
Before the face of the Most High,
36 Or subvert a man in his cause—
The Lord does not approve.

Footnotes

  1. Lamentations 1:1 Lit. forced laborer
  2. Lamentations 1:3 Gentiles
  3. Lamentations 1:4 appointed
  4. Lamentations 1:5 Lit. her head
  5. Lamentations 1:6 Lit. are gone
  6. Lamentations 1:7 Vg. Sabbaths
  7. Lamentations 1:8 LXX, Vg. moved or removed
  8. Lamentations 1:10 desirable
  9. Lamentations 1:10 holy place, the temple
  10. Lamentations 1:11 hunt food
  11. Lamentations 1:11 desirable things
  12. Lamentations 1:12 Lit. pass by this way
  13. Lamentations 1:14 So with MT, Tg.; LXX, Syr., Vg. watched over
  14. Lamentations 1:17 Prays
  15. Lamentations 1:18 Lit. mouth
  16. Lamentations 1:20 Lit. inward parts
  17. Lamentations 1:21 proclaimed
  18. Lamentations 2:3 Strength
  19. Lamentations 2:6 Lit. booth
  20. Lamentations 2:7 delivered
  21. Lamentations 2:8 determined
  22. Lamentations 2:9 Gentiles
  23. Lamentations 2:9 Prophetic revelation
  24. Lamentations 2:10 A sign of mourning
  25. Lamentations 2:11 Lit. inward parts
  26. Lamentations 2:11 Lit. liver
  27. Lamentations 2:13 Or bear witness to
  28. Lamentations 2:15 Lit. pass by this way
  29. Lamentations 2:17 Strength
  30. Lamentations 2:18 Lit. the daughter of your eye
  31. Lamentations 2:20 Vg. a span long
  32. Lamentations 3:5 hardship or weariness
  33. Lamentations 3:10 Lit. secret places
  34. Lamentations 3:13 Lit. sons of
  35. Lamentations 3:13 Lit. kidneys
  36. Lamentations 3:16 Lit. bent me down in
  37. Lamentations 3:17 Lit. good
  38. Lamentations 3:19 bitterness
  39. Lamentations 3:20 Lit. bowed down
  40. Lamentations 3:33 Lit. from His heart

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