Tuesday of Pentecost 6 – Lamentations 3:22-33 

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
    and let him be filled with insults.

31 For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

If you like to keep track of such things, take note that this is the only time in the three-year pericope system that we hear anything from Jeremiah’s little book of Lamentations. That is a bit of a shame really. I do not want to wade into the world of church music and the conflict which surrounds praise music, but I do think we have a surfeit of praise songs and a deficit of lamentation songs. We have turned being sad into a sin sometimes, as if sadness were somehow a lack of faith. Christians are always supposed to be happy.

The Bible does indeed exhort us to joy. Paul is rather insistent in Philippians (Phil. 4:4). But the scriptures would have us bring all our emotions to our prayers and to lay them before God. The psalmist is often sad, angry, and afraid. Our whole lives have been redeemed, including our sadness. Sin happens and sometimes we are sad. Jeremiah knew his share of sadness and then some. Even Jesus wept. Those too are God moments in our lives. He is teaching and helping us even then. It is hard to see and harder to feel God’s presence in those moments, but it is there. Jeremiah tells us two very important things about our suffering. In the last verses he tells us that God never afflicts us from his heart. In other words, God has never turned his heart against us. He always has compassion and steadfast love for us.

The second thing he tells us is even better. He tells the young man who is going through a difficult time that he should give his cheek to the one who strikes and to be filled with insults. This side of Good Friday we cannot hear those words and think of a time when a man in the prime of life was struck on the cheek, mocked, and filled with insults. Paul also says that rejoiced in suffering for he was “filling up” the suffering of Christ in his own body. That is another sort of joy, quiet and strong. That joy in suffering sings its lamentation in hope.

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