When It’s Bad, It’s Really Bad
Read Lamentations Chapter 4 and 5
La 4:6 The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her.
La 5:15 Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! 17 Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim 18for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.
On January 29, we pondered the idea that Christians living a life of sin are the most miserable people alive. Today’s topic will be similar. The writer of Lamentations was grieving over the nation of Israel, because their sins had taken them far away from God. In addition, they were suffering greatly as a result. In verse 6, the writer compared the plight of Israel to that of the people of Sodom. There is one major difference. Those from Sodom were not God’s people. God treats His chosen differently than other peoples.
How can the problems of the Israelites be worse than the Sodomites? Those of Sodom were killed and spent eternity in hell. Surely the Israelites were not worse off than that! That is where the difference between God’s people and those of the world comes into play. When God’s people perish from earth, they immediately go to the bliss of eternal life with God. In effect, the writer is saying that if the Israelites (the true worshipers) had died, they would be living forever in joy and peace. Therefore, they are worse off, because they are still on earth, dealing with the pains caused by their sinfulness.
That’s a great lesson for us. God has decreed for each of us a certain number of years on this earth. As believers and followers of Christ, we can choose to live it in God’s will, or try to indulge in the desires of our sinful nature. At best, life on earth is filled with constant turmoil. But Christians can live a better life if they are following closely in the footsteps of Jesus. Even a life of persecution, trials, and troubles with Christ is better than a life of worldly ease without Christ. But the Christian man or woman who is living outside God’s will has the worst life of all. Not only will he suffer the ills that all men encounter, he will endure additional woes. That was what was happening to the Israelites while they were in captivity.
Our sorrows increase when we live off of God’s pathway. That’s a pure and simple fact. We may believe that battling same-sex attractions is the worst possible existence ever. Not so. To live a life of unbridled sin, never feeling the weight of the Spirit tugging against our hearts, would be the worst life of all. Next worst would be those who belong to God and are suffering for their faith. That is what is happening to us. We are suffering because of our faith – not so much in the form of persecutions from the world, but because we are resisting strong temptations. Our battle is against Satan and his forces, who constantly pound us in hope that we will dishonor Christ and our Father.
Let’s get back to the original point. The Christian who is rebelling against God has two major problems. Satan has gained some upper ground in his life, and that person has become enslaved by sin – lured into the enemy’s snare. But God is troubling him also. The troubles brought on by Him are because He loves His children. They are meant to draw those He loves back into His fellowship. Such is the predicament of the Israelites in Lamentations, and such is our lot in life when we are in rebellion against His authority. If we turn away from God, and are truly His beloved, we cannot be happy. We are not happy in sin and at the same time refusing to seek God for our happiness.
Prayer: Father, we ask that You remind us of all this, each time our enemy and this world brings temptation our way. Also remind us that we are, among all peoples of the world, the most blessed of all. We forget that, but we shouldn’t. Thank You for loving us so much that we cannot escape Your presence.