WHEN BROKENNESS MEETS REDEMPTION
There are multiple ways to respond to brokenness and sin. I have noticed through ministering to others and my own life that the two primary ways is to either ignore it as we live in it or deal with it through seeking God in community. Both methods are painful to deal with as it addresses uncomfortable subjects but where the first path leads to continual pain, the second will lead to healing and restoration. Lamentations chapter three, shows us how to respond to brokenness when that brokenness has met God’s judgement. The prophet serves as an example of the second path to meeting brokenness and how the fruit of that choice is the comforting presence of God rather than His continual judgment.
Today, let us choose to lean into the discomfort and not run away from it because to lean into it will lead to healing whereas running from it actually produces the opposite of what we are trying to achieve which is living with it. As contradictory as it sounds, running from our problems only keeps our problems closer to us.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
55 “I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!’
The depths of the pit are what other translations refer to as the “lowest points.” In the lowest point of the prophet’s life, he cries out to God. To cry out to God in desperate times is not a new thing but the mindset that the prophet shares with us is that his crying is heard from God! He acknowledges that God hears his cries but the request is that God does not ignore his cries. This is interesting because the people of God have closed their ears to the pleas of God but now in the midst of their judgment, the request is that God doesn’t do the same to them.
When it comes to human terms, we would probably expect that if you ignore me than I will ignore you but what we see from the Bible is that though we have ignored God, when we come back to him he doesn’t give us shade but in fact draws near to us. God’s not petty and His grace is not that He gives us what we deserve but gives us what we don’t deserve, which is a second chance.
In our lowest points, we may think that we shouldn’t cry out to God because of the messes that we have created but the answer is to still cry out and believe that His grace is beyond our capability to understand or explain.
57 You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’
58 “You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
judge my cause.
60 You have seen all their vengeance,
all their plots against me.
The response of God is this, “Do not fear!”
It was not, “I told you so.”
It was not, “Well you got what you deserve.”
It was not, “Beg for mercy until I believe you.”
It was, “Do not fear!”
The LORD looks at the situation and is redeeming it. Notice how the redemption process happens when the people cry out for it. God judges sin for He is a good and righteous judge. Yet I have noticed that when God judges, that the point is not for the sake of judgment alone when dealing with His people. When God judges, His goal is to break open the heart that has been hardened by sin so that it can cry out to God so that God can begin the healing process! God cannot redeem a heart that refuses to either acknowledge it’s brokenness or refuses to let God in. It is that phrase that we hear that only until someone has hit rock bottom that they begin to seek healing. I believe the judgment of God is for the purpose of leading to the restoration that comes from God and he will use judgment to break away the things that hinder it.
64 “You will repay them,[a] O Lord,
according to the work of their hands.
65 You will give them[b] dullness of heart;
your curse will be[c] on them.
66 You will pursue them[d] in anger and destroy them
from under your heavens, O Lord.”[e]
The prophet is talking about the foreign oppressors of God’s people. They were used by God to bring judgment but they have taken it too far! God is going to come and be the one that executes judgment on the people that have been oppressing God’s people.
What is interesting to note is that the judgement that the prophet calls forth is one where the people become dull in the heart or what the NIV translates as a “veil” over their hearts. I believe that the scariest judgment of God upon people that refuse to follow the Lord and only their sin is a heart that is veiled or blocked from the goodness of God alongside the lack of awareness of the power of sin. A curse of blindness is a really devastating thing to have and I believe that when we choose to not listen to God’s warnings or even turn to God in the midst of brokenness, we will eventually get what we have created, a blindness to our sin and God’s goodness. This is the worst type of judgment and can be prevented when we choose to stay humble and allow not only God to speak into our lives but the God centered community. It is so easy to not listen to people and run from our problems in difficult seasons but the proper response to suffering whether created by our own hands or brought upon us through the sins of others is to seek the Lord who redeems.