When Life is Hard - God is Faithful

 

Learning God’s Faithfulness

 

One of the greatest blessings of life is to know God. Knowing God means that He also knows us.

 

God knowing us means He knows life hurts at times. When ever I go through hard times, sad times, dark times, discouraging times – I can testify with many of you that the greatest cure comes from looking at Jesus.

 

Remember how Isaiah 53.3 calls Jesus “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…”. Sounds to me like just the One to get to know when troubles, pains, and afflictions come rolling through like an unexpected summer storm on the picnic of our life.

 

Jesus Knows our PAIN

 

So where do I look when life hurts?

 

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Did you catch that? Jesus can ‘feel the pain with us of our weaknesses’. Now what would you call depression, discouragement, frustration, sadness, and so on – weaknesses. And what does Jesus do? He feels the pain with us. The word is sum-pascho ‘with’ ‘pain’. In fact the pain of the cross is called the paschal time or pain time. And that is what Jesus feels for us.

Great - so how does that help us? Well to bridge the chasm between the High and Mighty Sinless Jesus Christ the Lord of Glory – and you and me, God gave us the cast of this Book. This morning look with me at an Old Testament figure whose life reflects the feelings of Jesus for our weaknesses we painfully live with. His name – Jeremiah. His testimony is the 25th book of God's Word, and it is called Lamentations. Does that title suggest anything to you? It is the cry of a troubled soul. It is the testimony of a man who knew pain, weakness, and much sorrow.

Let me briefly sketch the life of this incredible servant of God. Jeremiah must have had an incredible childhood. The Scriptures tell us God had chosen him before his birth to be a prophet. His family was notable in their service for the LORD. Life was exciting for the son of a high priest.

Jeremiah 1:1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, (NASB)

One of the great blessings of Jeremiah’s life was that his dad was the one who found the lost book of the Law. How Jeremiah’s love for the Word showed through in his life as God’s prophet. He was the “son of Hilkiah” (Jer. 1:1) and as 2 Kings 22:8 records:

“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.”

Note also Jeremiah’s uncle was Shallum husband of Huldah the prophetess as Jeremiah 32:7 tells us:

Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it. (KJV)

When Troubles Come in Overwhelming Waves

 

Jeremiah’s woes were unimaginable to our relatively peaceful lives. He lived through the death throes of the nation of Judah.

  • From an earthly perspective Jeremiah’s life was a failure. During his lifetime he watched the decay of God’s chosen people, the horrible destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the nation to Babylon.
  • He preached for 40 years and saw no visible result among those he served. Instead those countrymen he warned for God sought to kill him if he wouldn’t stop preaching doom (Jer. 11:19-23). He had virtually no converts to show for a lifetime of ministry.
  • He had no one to find joy and comfort with as his own family and friends were involved in plots against his (12:60).
  • He never had the joy of a godly home because God never allowed him to marry, and thus he suffered incredibly agonizing loneliness (16:20).
  • He lived under a constant threat of death, as there were plots to kill him in secret so no one would find him (18:20-23).
  • He lived with physical pain while he was beaten severely and then bound in wooden stocks (20:1-2).
  • He lived with emotional pain as his friends spied on him deceitfully and for revenge (20:10).
  • He was consumed with sorrow and shame and even cursed the day he was born (20:14-18).
  • His life ended with no relief as he was falsely accused of being a traitor to his own country (37:13-14). Jeremiah was arrested, beaten, thrown into a dungeon, and starved many days (37:15-21). If an Ethiopian Gentile had not interceded on his behalf he would have died there.
  • In the end, tradition tells us he was exiled to Egypt, where he was stoned to death by his own people.

 

Perhaps the most striking feature of this book is the fact that despite the terrible woes of the life Jeremiah was called to (1:5), he saw that it was all at the Master Potter’s Hand (18:1-6). At the point of near despair over his failed ministry, God asked Jeremiah to go to the Potter’s house and there he would get a message from the Lord (18:2). Although Israel had failed so grievously, the heavenly Potter was able to bless them again if they would but repent and yield to his Perfect Touch.

 

When Life Hurts

 

So as we turn to Lamentations 3, what are the Biblical afflictions God uses, manages, allows and most of all – hurts that HE can handle:

 

1.      THE HURTS OF BROKEN PHYSICAL HEALTH: Lamentations 3:4 He has aged my flesh and my skin, And broken my bones.

2.      THE HURTS OF DEEP EMOTIONAL STRAIN: Lamentations 3:5 He has besieged me And surrounded me with bitterness and woe.

3.      THE HURTS OF PERIODS OF DARK DEPRESSION: Lamentations 3:6 He has set me in dark places Like the dead of long ago.

4.      THE HURTS OF DESPERATION AND BURDEN OF BEING TRAPPED: Lamentations 3:7 He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy.

5.      THE HURTS OF FEELING OUT OF TOUCH, DISTANT FROM GOD AND LEFT BEHIND IN LIFE: Lamentations 3:8 Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer.

6.      THE HURTS OF FRUSTRATION AND CONFUSION: Lamentations 3:9 He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.

7.      THE HURTS OF ANXIETY AND SADNESS: Lamentations 3:17 You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity.

8.      THE HURTS OF PHYSICAL WEAKNESS AND HOPELESSNESS: Lamentations 3:18 And I said, “My strength and my hope Have perished from the Lord.”

9.      THE HURTS OF BITTER AFFLICTION AND AIMLESSNESS: Lamentations 3:19 Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall.

 

A Prescription from the Great Physician

 

So what possible blessing could ever come from such a desperate condition of affliction and hurt?

 

To find out please …..

 

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