J. Andrew Dearman: The Center of Existence

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For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny people their rights before the Most High, to deprive them of justice—would not the Lord see such things? Lamentations 3:31-36

“God is present as someone who loves His wayward people in spite of their sinfulness. There is more than affirmation of divine judgment in this chapter. If this was not also the experience of the poet before God, he could not have written 3:22-24, and he could not have affirmed that “though God brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love” (3:32). Note that the poet’s affirmation comes at the center of the book, in the midst of the middle chapter. Perhaps the placement is a clue, although a small one, that God’s loyalty is ultimately the center of existence for a believer.”

J. Andrew Dearman in Jeremiah, Lamentations (NIVAC: Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2002) 461.

Recently my wife and I read through Lamentations. It’s true that the beacon of hope, the light in the seasoon of lament, shines in chapter three. The rest is largely filled with sadness.

What I had forgotten, but was pleasantly surprised to learn afresh this morning , was that often in Hebrew poetry, the message is often located in the middle. It is constructed like a chiasm.

What’s the chiastic message of Lamentations that has never been more relevant than in COVID-19? God is in center of existence. He is with us in these hard times. He will show compassion because great is His unfailing love.

Tell one person this today. We are halfway through what might be a long year. May our generosity come into view as  reminding each other to keep looking up. God has not forgotten about us.