Calamity’s Cause – Lamentations 3:37-42

Handling-Problems-Good-Morning-This-Is-God“Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us” (Lamentations 3:37-42, NLT).

The book of Lamentations is attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. The context for the book is the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Each of the first four chapters of Lamentations is an acrostic, laid out in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. The first word of each verse begins with a successive Hebrew letter. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 have one verse for each of the twenty-two Hebrew letters.

Chapter 3 contains twenty-two stanzas of three verses each. In this chapter the author laments the calamity that has come upon them, remembers the faithful love of God, and then describes how God’s people should react when they are confronted with problems and suffering.

We know that some calamities have natural causes and we know that bad things happen to the righteous as well as to the wicked. The author of Lamentations sees all calamity as coming from the Lord or at least permitted by the Lord.

A better way of looking at it is that God manages all things that happen to us, good or bad. So, God can use people’s suffering to build their faithfulness and trust in Him.

But, our dilemma is not necessarily to explain the cause of a calamity so much as to have an appropriate response to our troubles. What’s important is not why we have problems but rather how we handle them.

The writer says that through calamity God provides us an opportunity to examine our lives and repent and draw closer to Him. Calamity gives God the chance to redirect us into doing His will.

But, complaining about our problems is never appropriate. In view of our sinfulness and God’s omnipotence, complaining about calamity is questioning God’s ability to manage the created order and your life. It’s complaining about His will. Complaining is a form of rebellion against God.

So, contrition compounded with thanksgiving is the appropriate response to problems because it acknowledges God’s sovereignty and in so doing we surrender and submit our own will to God’s Sovereign Will.

“And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.” (2 Thessalonians 1:5, NLT)

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