When God Seems Deaf
Gracious Lord, may I live all this day with an awareness that Your living presence dwells within me.
Read Lamentations 3:34-66
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“If only I knew where to find him: if only I could go to his dwelling” (Job 23:3)! Through Christ, God is near us, with us.
After the settled expressions of trust in God at the end of yesterday’s reading, today’s section is much more conflict-ridden and upsetting. There is no doubt that personal and national trauma (46-51, for example) has cut deep. The tears flow, yet there is still a grip on the true nature of God and our position before him. God is omnipotent. Whoever gives the orders may not be aware that God’s permissive power is behind him, but it is (37). Compare Romans 13:1.
There is a lesson about patience here, too. The advice to be patient is one of the most frustrating to receive. For those who are really suffering, I find it almost impertinent. Notice what happens here. In one section (40-45), there is an unexceptionable call to repentance and prayer, but it appears not to work. God appears to have cut himself off. The prayers are not getting through and, eventually, it feels like drowning (54). Then, there is a big change: in v. 56 God does hear, and in v. 57 he actually speaks. The relief is palpable, and the words and thoughts start tumbling out. When he asks God to “pay them back” (64), is that a desire for revenge on his enemies that we can understand but pass over in the spirit of the New Testament (see Matt. 5:43-46), or is it a godly desire for justice?
Back in the main body of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 18:7-10), the connection between good or evil in a nation, and God’s attitude to it, seems more or less automatic. When there is a serious delay, as in this chapter, there is no harm in being frank and honest with God as long as we can be equally frank and honest about our own—and our church’s—shortcomings.
Try using vs. 40 and 41 as a starting point for self-examination. Ask God for eyes to see and a spirit to repent of any shortcomings you uncover.
Loving Father, at times I sense a distance between us. Forgive me if my sins have caused this. Enable me learn lessons that will mature me in Christ.
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