“The Lord is in the right,
for I have rebelled against his word;
So often, when we face hardships, we feel deep down that we are suffering unjustly. While we may have done a few things bad here and there, there certainly is no reason that we really deserve to face the consequences for what we have done. We have a tendency to excuse our own misdeeds and still hold others accountable for theirs. And these facts make Lamentations 1:18a so fascinating.
In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah the prophet is weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonian invaders. God has finally brought his promised judgment to Judah, and Jeremiah sees with his own eyes the horror. The precious city, complete with the magnificent temple of King Solomon is going up in flames. People are enslaved and murdered. The strong city walls are broken down. The city and the people are facing utter ruin.
Notice, however, how Jeremiah, in the midst of his sorrow, speaks of what God has done. In verse 18 of the first lamentation, Jeremiah speaks for the nation, saying, ““The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word.” There is no wining. There is no “O, why me” stuff going on. Jeremiah looks at his life and the life of the nation, and he fully understands why it is that God’s judgment has fallen. As a nation, they have rejected God and his word. As a nation they are now rightly suffering God’s wrath.
Is it really Christian to have people thinking about how much we actually deserve God’s judgment? In Luke 13, when Jesus was responding to disasters, both natural and man-made, he told the people asking him the questions that, when we see tragedy, our first question ought not be “Why?” Instead, Jesus says that our first question should be, “Why not me?” Jesus said in Luke 13:5, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” This is a far cry from urging people to question the fairness of suffering.
Now, I’m not trying to be callous to anyone’s suffering. The Bible is clear that we are to weep with those who weep, and this clearly means that we never should be hard-hearted toward someone in pain. However, when we suffer, our first answer should be, “The Lord is in the right.” No matter how bad it is, God is always right. We may be suffering at the hands of evil and unjust people, but God has not wronged us. We may be suffering for no earthly understandable reason, but God has not wronged us. He is in the right. We must trust him.
And before we dare turn back and say that God is treating us unfairly, let us remember what it is that we actually deserve from him. He owes us his wrath and eternal fury. He chose to grant us forgiveness if we will simply trust in his Son. He made the sacrifice himself to pay for our sins against him. We deserve hell. Anything less than hell is God being gracious to us. So let us say with Jeremiah, “The Lord is in the right.”
Let us also learn from Jeremiah. He knew that Judah was suffering for rebelling against God’s word. Let us never do this. God’s word will stand. We may not ignore it. Let us become a people who read, study, and live our lives totally by his holy word as it is revealed to us in the Bible.