You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life. You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause. You have seen all their vengeance, all their plots against me. – Lamentations 3:56-58 ESV
Jeremiah had been through a lot. He had been a prophet for God, delivering a message of repentance and warning of future judgment if that message was ignored. Not only was his message unaccepted, his own people persecuted, rejected and even physically attacked him for his efforts. And eventually, Jeremiah had to stand by and watch as the city of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. He had to witness the destruction of the temple of God. He had a front row seat to the deportation of the people as they were shipped out as captives of the Babylonian king and his conquering army. And while Jeremiah was allowed to remain in the land of Judah along with a remnant of the people, he fared no better than before. He was still despised. He was blamed for all that had happened. He had no friends, only enemies. There were even times when he felt alienated and abandoned by God. “He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked” (Lamentations 3:7-9 ESV). Jeremiah found himself in a dark place emotionally and spiritually. He confessed, “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord’” (Lamentations 3:17-18 ESV). But as we saw in yesterday’s post, Jeremiah had one thing he continued to hang on to during his dark days of despair. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV).
The love and faithfulness of God. That is what kept Jeremiah going. And for Jeremiah, it was not some nebulous, bible-verse-on-a-plaque concept. It was real and he had experienced it in his own life. God had been loving and faithful to him in the past, so he knew that it was possible for God to be that way even under his current circumstances. God had taken up Jeremiah’s cause before. He had redeemed Jeremiah’s life on more than one occasion over the years. So why couldn’t He and why wouldn’t He do so now? Jeremiah knew that God was fully aware of what was going on. He had seen it all. He wasn’t not blind or oblivious to Jeremiah’s difficulties. Jeremiah’s God was compassionate and fully cognizant of his circumstances. After all, God had been the one to orchestrate all that had happened. There was nothing Jeremiah said in chapter three that God was not aware of already or for which He had a failed to prepare a plan of action. The question wasn’t whether God would redeem, but simply when and how. Jeremiah had no way of knowing just what God would do. He had no idea when God would do it. But he had hope based on past experience that God WOULD do something. Jeremiah believed, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV).
The temptation we face when going through a difficult time like Jeremiah is to lash out, if not at God, at others. We especially want to verbally attach those who are harming us. We want to take revenge and enact vengeance on those who persecuting us. But Jeremiah says it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It’s hard to keep our mouths shut when those around us are casting dispersions on our character or attacking us with their words. Yet Jeremiah said, “You have heard their taunts, O Lord, all their plots against me. The lips and thoughts of my assailants are against me all the day long. Behold their sitting and their rising; I am the object of their taunts” (Lamentations 3:61-63 ESV). I am sure there was a part of Jeremiah that wanted to lash out and light up his opponents. He wanted to give them a piece of his mind. He would have loved to have been able to defend himself and expose the lies of his enemies. But instead, he was willing to trust God. He sees. He will redeem. In the last three verses of his prayer, Jeremiah states, “You will repay them…”, “you will give them…, “your curse will be on them…”, “you will pursue them….” In other words, God had this handled. He would do what needed to be done. He would redeem. And Jeremiah was content to let God do it His way and according to His timeline. In the meantime, he would quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
We sometimes have a hard time believing that God sees what is going on. We either believe He is indifferent and doesn’t care or is too busy and preoccupied with more significant issues. And because we don’t think God sees, we doubt that He will redeem. That’s when we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. We seem our own vengeance. We attempt to act as our own savior. Rather than quietly wait on God’s salvation, we step in and, sadly, we screw things up. Waiting on God can be difficult. Remaining quiet can be practically impossible. But when we have a long history of having seen God work in our lives, it is far easier to trust Him. His past acts of redemption make future waiting on Him less difficult. That is why Jeremiah said, “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.” God had proven Himself faithful in the past. He would prove himself faithful in the future. He has seen. He will redeem.