The Lamentations of Jeremiah are a remarkable mix of positive thinking and at times, of deep depression. What a path Jeremiah’s life had taken! Beginning as a young priest in the reign of good king Josiah, he would have been spiritually stimulated. Josiah was the last good king in Jerusalem “who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul …” (2 Kings 23:25) and a remarkable Passover was held (verse 22), but soon after he was killed in battle and “Jeremiah … uttered a lament for him” (2 Chronicles 35:25).
What a changed life Jeremiah had after that with the low point being the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. After that, the Governor appointed by the Babylonians is murdered and some Jews went against the word of God and planned an escape to Egypt. Probably some blamed the prophet for their distressed state. Jeremiah is overwhelmed by sorrow. In Lamentations chapter one he writes of his “groaning, yet there was no one to comfort me” (verse 21). In today’s chapter it is evident that the people have turned against him – human nature often looks for someone to blame.
We judge verses 61-63 to be a prayer; “You have heard their taunts, O LORD, all their plots against me. The lips and thoughts of my assailants are against me all the day long … I am the object of their taunts”. Also in verse 17, “my soul is bereft of peace”; it is obvious he is ‘talking’ to God.
However, Jeremiah is also blessed with times of uplifting vision, a lesson for us when we are weighed down by sadness or anxieties. “The LORD is good for those who wait for him”, he writes, “to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (verses 25,26). As he looks back on his struggles Jeremiah is granted an all-embracing view of his relationship with God who has led him.
All who believe in God and the Messiah should seek such a vision, especially in times of stress. Jeremiah perceives of God that, “though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men” (verses 32,33).
Jeremiah lifts up his mind to see the ‘big picture’ of his relationship with God – and we must do the same, “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD”.