Watching the news is as about as fun as playing frisbee with a cat. Between the stock market plunging over 500 points in one day, Syrian rioting, Mexican gang violence, Texas drought, and political debt bickering, lamenting seems to be a worldwide sport. Listening to a Christian radio station today in Wisconsin, I heard the DJ ask if it seemed like God was angry. That seemed ironic since I had just read from my quiet time in Psalm 85:5, “Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger for all generations?” Moses observed in Psa. 90:7, “For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed” (ESV). Jeremiah warned, “Come out from among her, My people! Save your lives, each of you, from the LORD's burning anger”(51:45). What people in what century have not experienced pain and attributed it to God’s wrath?
Lamentations 1:12—Is this nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see! Is there any pain like mine, which was dealt out to me, which the LORD made me suffer on the day of His burning anger?
Is God angry? Certainly the actions of rebellious people provoke Him. Clearly He is aroused by disobedient children. Scripture establishes that He is not limited in ways or means to punish. He is not a disinterested Creator. So what are we to do when times are tough and blessings seem removed?
God may not tell us if is angry or targeting us with punishment. Nor is He offended or put off when we question Him. Sorrow is a natural emotion and response to hard times. But when we know that God is displeased it is especially wise to lament. Jeremiah was broken up by the realization of his own sin and the sorry condition of his countrymen. Picture a woman convulsed in sobs at the loss of her baby and that is close to the intense pain of the Old Testament’s weeping prophet. “My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is” (Lam. 3:17).
If we cannot lament sin, the condition of our heart is seriously in question. Genuine mourning leads to true repentance—a condition God expects if we are really willing to obey Him. Perhaps this is why Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure” (Ecc. 7:3,4). Finally, while the Jews had a heightened sense of God’s anger in the Old Testament, they also understood the vastness of His love. “Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22,23)! The hope in lamenting is the surety of God’s love. What could be more tragic than to have no expectation beyond sorrow! What can be more triumphant than to know grief is resolved by Christ’s blood!
And whether I called by day or night, how quickly He came and satisfied my sorrowing heart! So much so that I often wondered whether it were possible that my loved one who had been taken could be enjoying more of His presence than I was in my lonely chamber.—Hudson Taylor
©2011 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)