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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stop Whining and Get a Grip!

Happy New Year!

Lamentations 3:21-23 has always been a favorite passage of mine-
"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
 
And I am sure I've read that passage in context as I have read through the Bible many times. 
Today I read it in "The Message" translation. Now, let me preface this by saying that I LOVE the King James Version - it is my #1 baseline translation of the Bible. However I do like to read parallel translations just to get a better grip on the meaning of a particular passage as I study. 
I also consulted Matthew Henry's commentary and found this note: "Some think Jeremiah makes these complaints, not only as an intercessor for Israel, but as a type of Christ, who was thought by some to be Jeremiah the weeping prophet, because he was much in tears and to him many of the passages here may be applied.Reading this chapter, you can certainly understand why the book of Lamentations is so named... in our day this kind of "lamenting" is often called complaining - or whining... 
Here's an excerpt...
1 I'm the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God's anger. 
2 He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. 
3 Yes, he's given me the back of his hand over and over and over again.  
4 He turned me into a scarecrow of skin and bones, then broke the bones.  
5 He hemmed me in, ganged up on me, poured on the trouble and hard times.  
6 He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.  
7 He shuts me in so I'll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet. 
8 Even when I cry out and plead for help, he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.  
   (Wow... have you ever felt like this?)
9 He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He's got me cornered.  
10 He's a prowling bear tracking me down, a lion in hiding ready to pounce.  
11 He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces. 
     When he finished, there was nothing left of me.  
12 He took out his bow and arrows and used me for target practice.  
     (Poor guy... he's talking about GOD treating him like this... 
     can you say "depressed"?)

13 He shot me in the stomach with arrows from his quiver.  
14 Everyone took me for a joke, made me the butt of their mocking ballads.  
15 He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat, bloated me with vile drinks.  
16 He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud.  
17 I gave up on life altogether. I've forgotten what the good life is like.  
     (Can you relate yet?)
18 I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished. God is a lost cause." 
     It's a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God  
19 I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. 
20 I remember it all - oh, how well I remember - the feeling of hitting the bottom.  
    (Okay... here comes my favorite part!)
21 But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, 
    I keep a grip on hope: 
22 God's loyal love couldn't have run out, 
    His merciful love couldn't have dried up. 
23 They're created new every morning
    How great your faithfulness!  
      (This is so awesome... keep reading!)
24 I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.  
25 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  
26 It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. 
27 It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. 
28 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.  
     (Here's some great advice!)
29 Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. 
30 Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst. 
     (Wow... great insight!)
31 Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. 
32 If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.  
33 He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way:  
34 Stomping down hard on luckless prisoners,  
35 Refusing justice to victims in the court of High God, 
36 Tampering with evidence - the Master does not approve of such things. 
     God Speaks Both Good Things and Hard Things into Being  
     (What? See... some people don't think this is true - 
     but its in the Word!)
37 Who do you think "spoke and it happened"? It's the Master who gives such orders.  
38 Doesn't the High God speak everything, good things and hard things alike, into being?  
39 And why would anyone gifted with life complain when punished for sin?  
     (This is a powerful concept! Life is a Gift from God! Yet some    
    say "It's MY life! I'll live MY life the way I want to!" They don't 
    think God should give them guidelines or rules to live by? 
    Think again!
40 Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God. 
     (Great place to start a New Year's goal-setting session!  
     Reordering... reevaluating... re-prioritizing... 
     Yep! It's gonna be a GREAT year!!)