Lamentations 3:28-39 :
Let him sit alone and keep silence,
because he has laid it on him.
Let him put his mouth in the dust,
if it is so that there may be hope.
Let him give his cheek to him who strikes him.
Let him be filled full of reproach.
For the Lord will not cast off forever.
For though he causes grief,
yet he will have compassion according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.
For he does not afflict willingly,
nor grieve the children of men.
To crush under foot all the prisoners of the earth,
to turn away the right of a man before the face of the Most High,
to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord doesn’t approve.
Who is he who says, and it comes to pass,
when the Lord doesn’t command it?
Doesn’t evil and good come out of the mouth of the Most High?
Why should a living man complain,
a man for the punishment of his sins?
It may be that man’s most significant problem is that He keeps trying to supplant God. An amazing thing that Lamentations shows us is that we can do this even while undergoing suffering. God Himself may be disciplining us, and we will still try to do something to make things better for ourselves. Jeremiah reminds us, here, that the best thing we can do is to “sit alone and keep silence.” He isn’t saying this because all is lost. In fact, the exact opposite is true. “For the Lord will not cast off forever.” Instead of trying and trying to solve our own problem, it’s time to return to simple faith.
So what is the fact that we should consider as we keep our silence in our suffering? Here it is: God “does not afflict willingly.” Eventually, He will save us. Besides, “Why should a living man complain… for the punishment of his sins?” That’s what we are really doing when we get all upset about our suffering for our sin. We are complaining about our punishment, all the while failing to remember that God doesn’t want to be punishing us in the first place! I do recognize that there are times when we suffer when we did not sin, like Job did, but even then, we can trust that God has something good in mind, like Job came to understand.
The simple fact that we can rest our faith on, is that God intends to “have compassion according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.” May we remember this when we suffer.