Lamentations 3 (The Message)

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1 I'm the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God's anger. 2 He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. 3 Yes, he's given me the back of his hand over and over and over again. 4 He turned me into a scarecrow of skin and bones, then broke the bones. 5 He hemmed me in, ganged up on me, poured on the trouble and hard times. 6 He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin. 7 He shuts me in so I'll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet. 8 Even when I cry out and plead for help, he locks up my prayers and throws away the key. 9 He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He's got me cornered. 10 He's a prowling bear tracking me down, a lion in hiding ready to pounce. 11 He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces. When he finished, there was nothing left of me. 12 He took out his bow and arrows and used me for target practice. 13 He shot me in the stomach with arrows from his quiver. 14 Everyone took me for a joke, made me the butt of their mocking ballads. 15 He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat, bloated me with vile drinks. 16 He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud. 17 I gave up on life altogether. I've forgotten what the good life is like. 18 I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished. God is a lost cause." It's a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God 19 I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. 20 I remember it all - oh, how well I remember - the feeling of hitting the bottom. 21 But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: 22 God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. 23 They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! 24 I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. 25 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. 26 It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. 27 It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. 28 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. 29 Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. 30 Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst. 31 Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. 32 If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. 33 He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way: 34 Stomping down hard on luckless prisoners, 35 Refusing justice to victims in the court of High God, 36 Tampering with evidence - the Master does not approve of such things. God Speaks Both Good Things and Hard Things into Being 37 Who do you think "spoke and it happened"? It's the Master who gives such orders. 38 Doesn't the High God speak everything, good things and hard things alike, into being? 39 And why would anyone gifted with life complain when punished for sin? 40 Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God. 41 Let's lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time, praying to God in heaven: 42 "We've been contrary and willful, and you haven't forgiven. 43 "You lost your temper with us, holding nothing back. You chased us and cut us down without mercy. 44 You wrapped yourself in thick blankets of clouds so no prayers could get through. 45 You treated us like dirty dishwater, threw us out in the backyard of the nations. 46 "Our enemies shout abuse, their mouths full of derision, spitting invective. 47 We've been to hell and back. We've nowhere to turn, nowhere to go. 48 Rivers of tears pour from my eyes at the smashup of my dear people. 49 "The tears stream from my eyes, an artesian well of tears, 50 Until you, God, look down from on high, look and see my tears. 51 When I see what's happened to the young women in the city, the pain breaks my heart. 52 "Enemies with no reason to be enemies hunted me down like a bird. 53 They threw me into a pit, then pelted me with stones. 54 Then the rains came and filled the pit. The water rose over my head. I said, 'It's all over.' 55 "I called out your name, O God, called from the bottom of the pit. 56 You listened when I called out, 'Don't shut your ears! Get me out of here! Save me!' 57 You came close when I called out. You said, 'It's going to be all right.' 58 "You took my side, Master; you brought me back alive! 59 God, you saw the wrongs heaped on me. Give me my day in court! 60 Yes, you saw their mean-minded schemes, their plots to destroy me. 61 "You heard, God, their vicious gossip, their behind-my-back plots to ruin me. 62 They never quit, these enemies of mine, dreaming up mischief, hatching out malice, day after day after day. 63 Sitting down or standing up - just look at them! - they mock me with vulgar doggerel. 64 "Make them pay for what they've done, God. Give them their just deserts. 65 Break their miserable hearts! Damn their eyes! 66 Get good and angry. Hunt them down. Make a total demolition here under your heaven!"
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