Hello Project Ezra! This week our suggested reading is Lamentations 3. We have actually looked at it once before, a couple years ago, but it’s a great chapter, so I decided to suggest it again. One of the questions, or objections, that I hear most frequently regarding the Christian faith, and the existence of God, is the problem of suffering and pain. This is addressed head-on in Lamentations 3, but Jeremiah’s reaction is the opposite of what we generally see. Though he struggles with suffering, it drives him back to God, rather than away from Him. He goes back to the truth of who God is, His nature and character, and that gives him comfort. This is a great lesson, and we as believers should do the same. But more, we should impress this truth on non-believers. I have said many times, in answer to unbelievers when sharing the gospel, that I do not believe in and trust in God because I understand everything He does. I trust in Him because He has shown himself to be trust-worthy. I know God is sovereign, that His plans and thoughts are higher than mine, and that He will work all things together for good for those who trust in Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and I have seen that truth work itself out in my life and the lives of those around me many, many times. I pray that today, that truth will be encouraging to you, and transformative for those who don’t know Christ.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND PROJECT EZRA
READ LAMENTATIONS 3
This book is believed to have been written by Jeremiah, sometimes called the weeping prophet
The book is a collection of poems, expressing his grief over the fall of Jerusalem
Jeremiah lived through that fall, and suffered greatly because of it.
And in Lamentations he cries out to God to deliver him.
He says God had besieged and enveloped him with bitterness and tribulation
He says that God had allowed him to dwell in darkness
Have you ever felt that way? Have you felt that if there is a God, that He has abandoned you?
Maybe your own suffering, or the suffering of someone close to you, has caused to reject God.
It may even have caused you to hate God.
For some it is difficult to believe through suffering. But don’t despair. Consider who God is.
God is the God of all. He knows all, and is sovereign over all.
Nothing happens in His world without a purpose, not even your struggle and suffering.
This chapter asks “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?”
Sometimes it is those struggles, and our desperation, that cause us to look to Him, and realize our greatest need.
And our greatest need, the thing we should most look for, is God’s mercy.
In the Gospel of Luke, some of Jesus’ followers told him about some men from Galilee who’s blood a Roman ruler had mixed with their sacrifices.
They seemed to assume that those men had suffered because of something they had done.
But Jesus said:
"Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
We often don’t know why God allows suffering.
But if we look at ourselves in the mirror of His law, and see ourselves in truth, we will see that any struggles we have are far less than we deserve.
God’s law shows us that we are guilty sinners, deserving of God’s wrath
GO THROUGH THE LAW TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
We are all guilty, and deserving of God’s wrath.
And because God is just, and holy, His wrath will be satisfied.
He will not leave the guilty unpunished (VERSE), but will insure every sin is paid for
That is the reason Hell was created.
In the fire, and darkness, and pain of hell, past and future sin will be paid for
But they don’t have to be. You don’t have to suffer for your sins in hell
Lamentations 3 says though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love
It also tells us that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end
Christ offers us mercy through His blood, shed on a cross, so that we would not have to shed ours
When Christ died, His suffering paid our debt, so that if we repent, we will not perish, and if we trust in Him, we will go free.
Have you done that? If not, I plead with you to do so today.
This chapter asks:
Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!
Return to the Lord. Look to Him to save you. Trust in His goodness, and His life-giving sacrifice.
Your suffering has great purpose, if it causes you to look to Him.
Psalm 126:5 says that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
And for His children, there is a day when he will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
The book of Revelation says death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
Turn from your sin and to your savior. Trust in Christ alone and you will be saved!