I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.
10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and given me gall to drink.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
34 To crush underfoot
all prisoners in the land,
35 to deny people their rights
before the Most High,
36 to deprive them of justice—
would not the Lord see such things?
37 Who can speak and have it happen
if the Lord has not decreed it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?
39 Why should the living complain
when punished for their sins?
40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
to God in heaven, and say:
42 “We have sinned and rebelled
and you have not forgiven.
43 “You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us;
you have slain without pity.
44 You have covered yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can get through.
45 You have made us scum and refuse
among the nations.
46 “All our enemies have opened their mouths
wide against us.
47 We have suffered terror and pitfalls,
ruin and destruction.”
48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes
because my people are destroyed.
49 My eyes will flow unceasingly,
50 until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
51 What I see brings grief to my soul
because of all the women of my city.
52 Those who were my enemies without cause
hunted me like a bird.
53 They tried to end my life in a pit
and threw stones at me;
54 the waters closed over my head,
and I thought I was about to perish.
55 I called on your name, Lord,
from the depths of the pit.
56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief.”
57 You came near when I called you,
and you said, “Do not fear.”
58 You, Lord, took up my case;
you redeemed my life.
59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me.
Uphold my cause!
60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance,
all their plots against me.
61 Lord, you have heard their insults,
all their plots against me—
62 what my enemies whisper and mutter
against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Sitting or standing,
they mock me in their songs.
64 Pay them back what they deserve, Lord,
for what their hands have done.
65 Put a veil over their hearts,
and may your curse be on them!
66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under the heavens of the Lord.
Part of me truly wanted to edit out parts of the Word up there, like verses 64-66, and just leave out the super relevant parts like verse 38, but verses 1-66 were put together as Lamentations 3 for a reason, and it would be wrong to cut out the parts that I don’t like or are unsure about. Because, Imma be honest, I’m unsure about the anger demanded of the Lord in this chapter. I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel about it or how I’m supposed to behave because of it, but I’m human. My knowledge is limited. And God is all. He’s straight up all. All-knowing, all-consuming, all-_________. And I will learn these things in time, just like you learn Shakespeare in high school instead of in second grade because you gotta know how to read before you even attempt Willy Shakes. Shoot, before you even attempt some of the difficulties of the Old Testament or Paul’s letters or Revelation, you gotta know how to read it with the lens of love that comes from the gospel.
But anyways, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? For the sake of honesty, I’ve really been struggling. With words, with feelings, with people, with the Lawd (I have an issue of attempting to make jokes when I’m hurt to brush things off like it’s no big deal, and I gotta stop that because the heart is a super serious matter…). With the Lord. And it’s been really poopy. Like really poopy. Last year, my problem was anger at the Lord for putting me in a place I didn’t think I could thrive. This year, my problem has been _______. I don’t even have a word for it because I have no idea how to explain what it is to its fullest effect (or is it affect?), and I don’t think I should try to explain it via online (hit me up in person or call me maybe? *cue the music*).
But Lamentations 3. Man. Here I was, sitting here in my living room here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, mindlessly watching Hart of Dixie (okay, so this show is funny, but I find it even funnier because the stereotypical southern people in the show are actually a part of my daily life), scrolling through Amazon, looking at things I’ll never buy because I don’t trust online shopping (I can’t even tell you how many things I added to my cart just for the heck of it and then deleted before I decided to do more spontaneous shopping…). But I’ve been shopping for something to hang in my bathroom over my shelf (I pulled off a command strip, and paint came off with it, so I’m trying to find something to cover it up). I was looking at maps of Georgia and Ireland (added to my cart), scrolling through page after page of hanging wall pot thingies to put plants or magazines in (many added to my cart), and even got sidetracked and looked at new shower curtains (none added to my cart because I find I’m a bit particular about my curtain being just as colorful as my towels…). But I found these prints that were King James Bible passages that had a verse written decoratively over it. This is the one that caught my eye.
“His mercies are new every morning.”
That’s all I read, and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t like “Ooooo that is so relatable.” If anything, I liked it because it reminded me of hiking to the top of Stone Mountain with Cdawg (whose birthday is today!!!). And then I saw that it was from Lamentations 3, and curiosity struck because (although I haven’t read it yet) I had always thought of Lamentations as the sad, lamenting book of the Bible, so I was like “huh?” when I saw the verse about new mercies every morning.
And then I read it.
I have felt grief and affliction and calamity from my own heart, from my environment, and shoot, from the whole wide world! I have forgotten that “though He brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love….” and I have forgotten that from the mouth of the Most High comes both calamities and good things… You can’t have the rose without the thorns. You can’t have fertile soil without the yucky worms.
*shameless plug coming up* I have watched the movie, The Shack, twice. And I sobbed like a baby both times because it was so GAH. There are some theological things that I disagree with, so I’m not saying it is the end all, be all (just like going to church), but it is powerful if you choose to reflect on the things it says as opposed to just accepting them as absolutes. I’m about halfway through the book, and I think I’m going to have to restart because it just hits me with “I never thought about that!” after “I never thought about that!” that I haven’t been able to really process what these new things are. I bring it up because there’s a part in both the book and the movie where Mack is getting a garden ready with the Holy Spirit, and Sarayu (aka the Holy Spirit) tells Mack some straight up TRUTH that I would butcher if I tried to say it again because I can’t find the exact quote. But she essentially says that both the good and the bad have a purpose. The bad can be good if you choose to see it with the eyes of God.
(Here’s a fun little quote that isn’t the one I was looking for, but I love it so very much that I had to share….) “Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.” (Please, read the book. It’s GAH.
So really, I’m not sure what the purpose of this post was. Promotion for The Shack? Update on the nothingness that I have been doing since turning in that last dreaded final that stressed me out so much that a week after turning it in, I woke up in the morning with my first thought being that part of my paper didn’t follow my thesis? I’m not really sure.
But Lamentations 3 sure is something, and I’d like for you to make of it what you will.
In these past few months, I hope you’ve been climbing, running, and seeking.
Keep on keepin on, my friend.
Song of the Day? HAPPY BIRTHDAY CDAWG