LAMENTATIONS 3:39-41: “Why should any living mortal (any person) complain about being punished for sin? Let us look closely at our ways and examine them and then return to the LORD. Let us raise our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: How do I respond to God’s correction in my life? How does a nation respond to God’s correction in its life? In this book of lament, Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah looks upon the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and asks himself this important question – “Why should any living mortal (any person) complain about being punished for sin?”
The Lord does not delight in bringing judgment or correction. The Lord delights in bringing redemption. Jeremiah also writes these words.
- “He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone, crush any prisoner on earth underfoot, deny people their rights in the presence of the Most High God, or deprive people of justice in court. The Lord isn’t happy to see ⌊these things⌋. Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order.” (Lamentations 3:33-37 GW)
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, to redeem them through His substitutionary death for their sins. The Father sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, so that those who believe in should not perish, but should have everlasting life. God’s heart is to redeem people, not to judge them. Yet, love without justice is no love at all. If God is love, He must also be just. Therefore, His strange work of judgment is reserved for those who continue in their sin, refuse to repent, and reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This judgment only comes when all efforts to bring His mercy have been rejected by those who are hardened in their sin.
Yet, there is another aspect of God’s love and justice. It is not His judgment, it is His correction. Those whom the Lord loves, He corrects.
- “The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live?” (Hebrews 12:6-9 GW)
How is this different than judgment? It is directed at correcting and perfecting the believer. Just as we punish our children to keep them from continuing in a harmful pattern of activity or attitude, so the Lord corrects us to keep us on the pathway of life so that we can continue to grow in His grace. When we are corrected by the Lord, how do we respond? We should respond with sincere repentance and sincere appreciation. As Jeremiah writes – we should “…raise our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” Why should this be our response?
- “For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.” (Hebrews 12:10-11 GW)
When we respond to the Lord’s correction in sincere repentance – we find ourselves also responding in sincere appreciation. We learn that His correction, although difficult at times, always leads us to His peace that flows from the pathway of righteousness, from turning to the Lord and doing what is right. When we face times of struggle, closed doors, even persecution – we should not throw our hands up in despair. Rather, we should throw our hands up in repentance and praise. As we do, the Lord will lift us up, strengthen us, and guide us back onto the pathway of righteousness that leads to peace. The write of Hebrews exhorts us further when he writes,
- “Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal.” (Hebrews 12:12-13 GW)
- “Since we are surrounded by so many examples ⌊of faith⌋, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 GW)
Lord, In the midst of my struggle, strengthen my tired arms and so that I can lift them to You in sincere repentance and praise! Strengthen my weak knees, so that I can return to the paths of right living and actions. Give me grace to turn my heart fully to You and be healed! Help me to get rid of all the little things that keep me distracted, and that keep me in a position of regret, and not in the active response of returning to the Lord. Let me always look to the joy that is set before me, and know that even in correction, Your heart is always directed toward me in love!
In Jesus Name!