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III. Words of Anguish, Words of Hope (Lamentations 3:1-66)

3:1 Not only were things dark for the nation, but also for Jeremiah. I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath is a reminder that he had experienced a double load of grief. In addition to the pain of Jerusalem’s destruction, Jeremiah had physical and emotional scars from decades of prophetic ministry to people who’d refused to listen. He was the most hated man in Judah, the person everyone wanted gone.

Against the dark background of a lost nation and Jeremiah’s personal agony, the light of God’s faithfulness to his covenant and his people gave Jeremiah new hope. He didn’t deny his pain, yet he was assured that despair never has the last word when God is our hope.

3:24-42 God’s mercies are real, but they are only mine if I appropriate them, as Jeremiah did: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him (3:24). Putting your hope in God isn’t passive—it’s active. Those who hope in God wait for him, seek him, and receive his discipline (3:25-30).

Jeremiah knew of God’s covenant love; he knew God would not reject [his people] forever. Although he causes suffering if necessary, he will show compassion according to the abundance of his faithful love (3:31-32). God did not approve of the injustices of the Babylonians, but he used them for his purposes—to punish his people for their sins (3:34-39). God’s people are to hope in his mercy by examining their ways, confessing their sins, and turning back to him (3:40-42).

3:43-66 Jeremiah returns to lament in these verses, serving as a spokesman for Judah’s devastated people who realize their agony is the Lord’s doing (3:43-47). Then the prophet switches to the first person to describe his own suffering and rejection (3:48-54). His reference to being tossed in a pit by his enemies and almost drowning acknowledges a low point of his life, the moment he thought he would die (3:53; see Jer 38:1-6). But Jeremiah’s distress turned to a prayer for deliverance and God answered (3:55-66).

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