“Reading and studying lament poems may seem silly or even wrong in an era when popular preachers emphasize joy and prosperity, psychologists emphasize guilt-free living, and politicians spin out cheery sound bites. Yet this is precisely why Jeremiah’s words have so much to offer: They honestly decry the crushing weight of human sin and guilt.”
(Lutheran Study Bible, Pg. 1295 Blessings for readers)
This passage today, “…firmly proclaims that the Lord’s steadfast love never ceases, even amid the worst sufferings.”
Oh the subjective nature of suffering. We do need to be careful that we neither over emphasize it nor diminish the reality of it individually.
Certainly we can say that we are living in an era that is more prosperous than most other generations experienced.
We have amazing technology, medical advances, freedom and racial parity, economic opportunity, and excellent standards of living.
Not that anyone is alive that remembers, but our country and culture is not that far removed from a day when there was no penicillin, no women’s suffrage, no freedom of movement, intense segregation, and mental health care that was nothing short of abominable even in its’ day…ahh the good ol’ days.
But that’s not to say that we are not without our societal laments today!
The breakdown of the family as God designed it, gender dysphoria run amuck, cultural free speech censorship, narcissism, the promiscuity of our children, and the abandonment of polite discourse in favor of communication that screams, bullies, and terrorizes independent opinions into submission.
We can all lament some or all of these; and lament even more the subsequent generation’s acceptance of said unrepentant sin.
Among all the improvements; our sins have caused additional demise we were not interested in anticipating the consequences of.
These consequences threaten to separate us from God like a wall preventing us from going to Him anytime we like for relief from the crushing weight of our sins.
Last weekend you all know I attended the Florida Georgia District Lutheran Church Missouri Synod convention.
Any of you that know me well, know; that with the exception of vacation and my day off, the last place I want to be is anywhere but here at Faith for all my spiritual needs.
I don’t care for pastors conferences, I can do without church worker conferences, and for the most part I have no use for conventions.
I don’t even like wellness seminars and retreats specifically designed for pastors’ care. It all seems so contrived and artificial and never meets my needs.
The truth is, here with you is where I get the best worship, the most devotional study, and the finest and most gratifying fellowship. As I like to say…these are my people!
So going away last week was tantamount to abject suffering for me!
I wasn’t with my family, I didn’t get to worship in my church, and I had to leave the comfort of my community. It was lamentable for me!
But, it is also my duty, and duty requires us to reasonably suffer for the sake of said duty so that others can benefit.
Overall the convention was an acceptable amount of suffering for what we accomplished.
The constitution of the district was revisited and affirmed, memorials were voted upon and prepared for the national convention, and Jeff and I were faithfully present for all of it as representatives of Faith Lutheran Church and School and Eustis.
And I can faithfully say it was good for me, Jeff, all of you, and the all of the delegates representing their home towns and congregations as well.
But not because everything that happened was good, it wasn’t, after all we are but sinners trying to act like saints.
It was good because, even though the wall of suffering is built with the sinful bricks we laid, God stands upon that wall and through the prism of His Word and Sacraments He allows us to see Him there with us, never forsaking us and ever watchful over us.
Some years back I did a funeral at the National Cemetery in Brooksville.
It was a chilly day, filled with lamentations over the death of this beloved member we all dearly missed.
The weather caused an intense fog over the grounds and the lack of sun only added to the gloom and sadness that we all felt.
We said the requisite words, the gospel was proclaimed, but our loss was so profound that day our spirits did not rise to the occasion and we separated in the silence of the sadness we simply could not escape.
As I drove the long way out of the cemetery, something incredible happened: The fog lifted, and the sun cascaded through the mist and right on top of a headstone an eagle sat as if watching over those who lay there or even like a sentinel keeping guard over their souls.
That eagle reminds me of Jeremiah’s lament today in our devotion.
God is that merciful watcher that stands as sentinel over our lives, even though our wretched sins kill us all the day long and leave us dead in the tombs of our own making.
If He left us, we would not only suffer, we would be at our very end, never to be redeemed again.
But every morning is new because of the great faithfulness of our God.
This is the assurance we have; God is our portion and that’s what causes us to hope when all is lost.
In our text today, three times Jeremiah emphasizes what is good. It is good to have a soul that seeks God. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of God. It is good to bear your yoke while you are still young!
The first two seem reasonable enough, but the third seems more a burden then a good God would want for His children, unless He was talking about His only begotten Son!
Christ’s pure soul sought the will of His Father as He prayed sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Christ took the abuse of his captors and accusers without saying a word, to achieve salvation for all.
Christ wore the yoke of the cross beam at the tender age of 33, which He would bear the burden of the sins of the whole world on His sacred head.
But Jeremiah was not finished there with his Messianic inspiration that foreshadowed Christ’s Lamentation.
Like verse 30 Jesus set His cheek to be struck by the officer when the high priest questioned Jesus.
It was Jesus who was not cast off forever even though His Father abandoned Him on the cross.
It was Jesus, THE SON OF MAN who although our sins caused Him grief, affliction, and crucifixion did not let our hearts grieve over them.
Yes it may seem silly, but because of Jesus there is no longer anything to Lament over, we have everything to hope for because of the great faithfulness of our God.