December 29: The Grace of God Shines Through
Lamentations 1:1–2:22; Romans 15:8–21; Proverbs 30:1–33
I was once asked why the Bible is so brutal—why it depicts things like babies being killed and war. It’s true, the Bible has many moments of darkness and violence. But these depictions of the rawness of humanity—in all its ungratefulness and depravity—demonstrate how much people need God. And more than that, through these moments, the Bible shows how much people need a savior.
The book of Lamentations is brimming with sorrow and gnashing of teeth. Little hope can be found in this book. The prophet weeps and moans over his fallen nation, over watching Jerusalem crumble. In this poetic work, we see people who don’t follow the God who loves them dearly and so badly yearns to see them return to Him.
“How desolate the city sits that was full of people! She has become like a widow, once great among the nations! Like a woman of nobility in the provinces, she has become a forced laborer. She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; she has no comforter among all her lovers. All her friends have been unfaithful to her; they have become her enemies” (Lam 1:1–2). How can we process a passage like this? How can we handle this kind of depression?
The first time I read the book of Lamentations, I wept. I had grasped a bit of what the prophet felt, and weeping was the only natural response. But it wasn’t just that. I saw myself as Jerusalem. I was her. I had walked away from God’s desire for my life, and I deserved destruction.
Sometimes we must break before we can be rebuilt. Sometimes we must fall before we can rise to the greatness God has called us to. Are you Jerusalem? Call out to God like the prophet did. Tell God how you feel. Be honest with your mourning and your sadness. It may not make the fall easier, but it will surely make you more eager to accept the grace that God has offered. God wants you to experience His grace, including salvation in Christ. He wants you to live it.
Are you in need of a savior? What are you requesting of God today? What grace do you need to receive?
JOHN D. BARRY
- How doth the city remain solitary that was full of people? she is as a widow: she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, is made tributary. She weepeth continually in the night, and her tears run down by her cheeks: among all her lovers, she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt unfaithfully with her, andare her enemies. Judah is carried away captive, because of affliction, and because of great servitude, she dwelleth among the heathen, and findeth no rest: all her persecutors took her in the straits. The ways of Zion lament, because no man cometh to the solemn feasts, all her gates are desolate: her Priests sigh: her virgins are discomfited: and she is in heaviness. Her adversaries are the chief, and her enemies prosper: for the Lord hath afflicted her, for the multitude of her transgressions, and her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer. Jerusalem remembered the days of her affliction, and of her rebellion, and all her pleasant things that she had in times past, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversary saw her, and did mock at her Sabbaths. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned, therefore she is in derision: all that honored her, despise her because they have seen her filthiness: yea, she sigheth, and turned backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts: she remembered not her last end, therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter: O Lord, behold mine affliction: for the enemy is proud. The enemy hath stretched out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen the heathen enter into her Sanctuary, whom thou didst command, that they should not enter into thy Church. All her people sigh and seek their bread: they have given their pleasant things for meat to refresh the soul: see, O Lord, and consider: for I am become vile. Have ye no regard, all ye that pass by this way? behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce wrath. From above hath he sent fire into my bones, which prevail against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, and turned back: he hath made me desolate, and daily in heaviness. The yoke of my transgressions is bound upon his hand: they are wrapped, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall: the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, neither am I able to rise up. The Lord hath trodden under foot all my valiant men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly againt me to destroy my young men: the Lord hath trodden the winepress upon the virgin the daughter of Judah. For these things I weep: mine eye, even mine eye casteth out water, because the comforter that should refresh my soul, is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed. Zion stretcheth out her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the Lord hath appointed the enemies of Jacob round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman in the midst of them. The Lord is righteous: for I have rebelled against his commandments: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my Priests and mine Elders perished in the city, while they sought their meat to refresh their souls. Behold, O Lord, how I am troubled: my bowels swell: mine heart is turned within me, for I am full of heaviness: the sword spoileth abroad, as death doeth at home. They have heard that I mourn, but there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble, and are glad, that thou hast done it: thou wilt bring the day, that thou hast pronounced, and they shall be like un to me. Let all their wickedness come before thee: do unto them, as thou hast done unto me, for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and mine heart is heavy. Lamentations 1:1–2:22
- Now I say, that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision, for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. And let the Gentiles praise God, for his mercy, as it is written, For this cause I will confess thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy Name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and laud ye him all people together. And again Isaiah saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the Go dof hope fill you with all joy, and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the holy Ghost. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, and filled with all knowledge, and are able to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have somewhat boldly after a sort written unto you, as one that putteth you in remembrance, through the grace that is given me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ toward the Gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may rejoice in Christ Jesus in those things which pertain to God. For I dare not speak of anything, which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient in word and deed. With the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the spirit of God: so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have caused to abound the Gospel of Christ. Yea, so I enforced myself to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should have built on another man’s foundation. But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see him, and they that heard not, shall understand him. Romans 15:8–21
- the prophecy which the man spake unto Ithiel, even to Ithiel, and Ucal. Surely I am more foolish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man in me. For I have not learned wisdom, nor attained to the knowledge of holy things. Who hath ascended up to heaven, and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fist? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the world? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? Every word of God is pure: he is a shield to those that trust in him. Put nothing unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Two things have I required of thee: deny me them not before I die. Remove far from me anity and lies: give me not poverty, nor riches: feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the Name of my God in vaini. Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, when thou hast offended, There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own concerit, and yet are not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation whose eyes are haughty, and their eye lids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are asswords, and their claws as knives to eat up the afflicted out of the earth, and the poor from among men. The horseleech hath two daughters which cry, Give, give. There be three things that will not be satisfied: yea, four that say not, It is enough. The grave, and the barren womb, the earth, that cannot be satisfied with water, and the fire that saith not, It is enough. The eye that mocketh his father and despiseth the instruction of his mother, let the ravens of the valley pick it out, and the young eagles eat it. There be three things hid from me: yea, four that I know not: The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a stone, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid. Such is the way also of an adulterous woman: she eateth and wipeth her mouth, and saith, Ihave not committed iniquity. For three things the earth is moved: yea, for four it cannot sustain itself. For a servant when he reigneth, and a fool when he is filled with meat. For the hateful woman, when she is married, and for a handmaid that is heir to her mistress. These be four small things in the earth, yet they are wise, and full of wisdom. The pismites a people not strong, yet prepare they their meat in summer: The conies a people not mighty, yet make they their houses in the rock: The grashopper hath no king, yet go they forth all by bands: The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in king’s palaces. There be three things that order well their going: yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strong among beasts, and turneth not at the sight of any: A lusty greyhound, and a goat, and a king against whom there is no rising up. If thou hast been foolish in lifting thyself up, and if thou hast thought wickedly, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. When one churneth milk, he bringeth forth butter: and he that wringeth his nose, causeth blood to come out, so he that forceth wrath, bringeth forth strife. Proverbs 30:1–33