The Lamentations of Jeremiah is not a book we necessarily enjoy reading, but we need to be careful not to read only those things that give a positive message and we find encouraging. There are some gems hidden in this prophet’s words of despair and distress. The first two chapters are about how God’s anger with Jerusalem finally overflows into action; His mercy toward the people of His holy city finally comes to an end, His judgments are poured out. Is today’s world similar to this? His word is available in all languages, yet is largely ignored or scoffed at.

It is easy to say that we serve a God of love, that this is the focus of God’s character. Whilst this is true there should be more thought that His anger could be poured out at any time, even today given our godless world. Twice it happened to God’s Jerusalem; they were terrifying times.

In chapter 3, Jeremiah suddenly expresses his own feelings, his own experience of overwhelming despair, “though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer” (verse 8). That reminds us of the final words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet in his Lamentations, more positive thoughts replace despairing thoughts. See how Jeremiah lifts his mind to a higher plain, “but this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (verse 21). Then come the words that have been made into a much loved hymn about the mercies of God “they are new every morning: great is your faithfulness” (verse 23). Next he writes, The LORD is good to those who wait for him … who seek him” (verse 25). Will the Lord have reason to be good to you?

Take special note of verse 27 … it is good for us to bear the yoke in our youth! Bearing the yoke? If our young lives are too easy, with no problems or challenges, nothing to make us anxious, it will be difficult to develop a good character; worse still, we will have little inclination toward being yoked to Jesus Christ and to carry his cross (meditate on John 15:18,19). It may be that those who are truly yoked to Christ have to follow in the footsteps of Jeremiah to some degree.