The Lord is in the Right (Lamentations 1:18)

Lamentations 1:18 – The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; my young women and my young men have gone into captivity.
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The book of Lamentations is a set of, surprisingly enough, laments. A lament is a cry of sorrow or perhaps regret. In the case of the biblical book of Lamentations, the author, Jeremiah, is mourning the destruction of the city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. The prophet has been an eyewitness to great horror, great tragedy, and great human suffering.

In our day, as I have said on numerous occasions, we have a tough time handling suffering. When we go through hardships, we often think to ourselves that we do not deserve for bad things to happen to us. We almost want to say, but seldom do, that God has somehow wronged us. We think that there is no way that we could possibly truly deserve the hardship that has befallen us.

Our lack of understanding of what we often deserve is what makes me jump for joy as I read the verse above. Jeremiah, who has witnessed suffering to rival any that we have seen, inserts in his description of the suffering a comment of incredible magnitude. Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of the rebellious people of God, says that they deserve what has befallen them because they have rebelled against God’s word. This is not to lessen the severity of the suffering; nor is it to somehow do away with the sorrow. Jeremiah’s comment simply puts the suffering in proper perspective. When God allowed the Babylonians to overrun and raze Jerusalem, God was only keeping his promises that he spelled out in his covenant with Israel.

Now, in case you are a new visitor to this Blog, do not take any of what was just said as a celebration of violence or somehow anti-Semitic. The point of what I am writing is this: God has the right to give us far worse punishments than any of us have ever experienced because we have all rebelled against his word. God, however, has been incredibly gracious to us, sparing us the absolute worst of the worst. If God has refrained from casting us immediately into an eternal hell at the moment of our first sin, God has been merciful toward us.

Now, take the verse above, and think it through in your own life. Do you often feel like the hardships you face are unfair? I’m not saying that you ought not try to get out of those hardships. However, never assume that God is giving you something more harsh than all we humans deserve. We have all rebelled against him. We have all earned hell. Anything less than that judgment of God is a blessing. Again, I’m not trying to be flippant about your suffering. I’m not even telling you that you should not work to get away from your suffering if it is possible and righteous to do so. I’m not even saying that the suffering that has come upon you may not be completely cruel and unjust from a human point of view. Things happen to some people that none of us deserve from a human mindset. However, let none of those things call into question the character of God. We have rebelled against our Creator. Anything less than instant death and eternal hell is mercy from him.

When you think of what we all actually deserve for our rebellion against God, you should be amazed at the mercy of God that has let you live this long. But, there is something even more amazing. God has also made provision for your sin to be forgiven, completely wiped away. God sent his son to suffer the punishment we all deserve in order that we might receive pardon for our sins and even rewards that we have never earned. God’s grace is truly amazing. And the more you recognize that your sin has earned you God’s wrath, the more you can rejoice at the absolutely amazing, matchless, marvelous grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus.