A friend called me up a few years ago. He was distraught. He wanted to reconnect with God and didn’t know how. He felt his sins had taken him so far from God. He asked me for help.
I had just read something in the Bible that I knew was perfect for him. It was exactly what he needed and he told me so. “You should write a song about it”, he said. I told him that I would. That very night most of the song was written. I entitled the song Enter the Silence because this is the advice Jeremiah gives us when we need to take care of business with God:
“…The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
And it is good for people to submit at an early age
to the yoke of his discipline:
Let them sit alone in silence…” (Lamentations 3:25-27 NLT)
This Scripture is from Lamentations three. As you can probably guess from the title of the book in which it was found, it is not a warm fuzzy Scripture. But sadly, oftentimes neither is life, especially when we are suffering the weight and devastation of our sins… as was the case in this horrifying book of the Bible.
But in spite of the discipline, which the Bible agrees is not so pleasant at the time, God gives us hope. In fact, it is his discipline that is a sign that he loves us and accepts us as his children. How crazy is that in light of what his discipline sometimes entails… I mean, this is the book of Lamentations!
Jeremiah is lamenting the murderous rampage of his people by the Babylonians, babies wacked against rocks, pregnant woman cut open, woman being raped, the king forced to watch his sons killed and then have his eyes gouged out, mens wives and daughters being taken as sex slaves by Babylonian officers.
It was horrific.
I guess the reason I say all this is that even God’s saints are not spared suffering either. Of course the Israelites mentioned in Lamentations were suffering for many years of grievous sins. They had abandoned God (who is Love) and were guilty of horrible idolatry. They had been worshipping demons, sacrificing babies, and engaging in vile sexual perversion, etc… They were reaping what they had sown. Just like we often do as well.
But what about innocent Christians today who are getting their heads chopped off by ISIS and then their decapitated corpses nailed to crosses? What about the Christian women being raped publicly as they worshiped Jesus? (Article on this here).
What About Christian Persecution Today?
I just watched a film with my wife called Furious Love. In this film Darren Wilson goes to and explores the darkest areas of the world to see if God’s love is any match for the darkness the enemy has to offer.
One story he covers is of a region in India were zealous Hindus are massacring Christians. One surviving girl whose family was slaughtered said, “Why is this happening to us? What did we do? But the Bible says we are blessed for suffering for the Name of Jesus.”
He also interviews Daniel who had just taken a trip to war-torn Congo. The Christians there are heavily persecuted. There are hardly any women who have not been raped. Daniel had to fight back the intense fear that nearly had him vomiting at the thought of being caught by the rebels.
He tells a story that was told him of the rebels randomly killing two men on a bus. One woman who was holding a baby starts to lose it because one of the men was her brother. The rebels then take her baby and bash it against the bus until it is dead then shoot the woman.
Jesus is all that these Christians have left. Daniel recorded the sounds of them worshiping the Lord with all their heart and it was beautiful!
God tells us in his word that we, as Christ followers, are “counted as sheep to be slaughtered”, but that in spite of that and all the raping and murder and baby bashing and persecution – in spite of everything the devil will throw at us – nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Please Read Romans 8) This is supposed to mean something to you. Sadly, our choice to remain in sin will rob us of having this mean anything.
I have experienced a small taste of the infinite intensity of God’s love. I know that it makes all the difference. It gives us hope beyond all the hell that surrounds us and torments us. Our suffering is drowned in perfect love.
This is not cheep. This kind of hellish persecution and suffering are a reality for believers all over the world.
God also tells us in his Word that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that shall be revealed to us. (Rom 8:18)
All the madness. All the pain, suffering and anguish the devil can heap on us is not worth comparing with experiencing the love of Jesus. Has his love captured your heart? Have you let it? Invite it in now! Invite Jesus to reveal his love for you even now!
And to think that some of us still engage in taking the bait of the enemy. The sin he so easily ensnares us with. We know that sin wages war on love and that to engage in sin is to be complicit to the enemy who steals, kills, and destroys. We must repent. We must be holy (which means to be fully surrendered). We must remain loyal to love. God will give us the grace we need to do it.
At the outset of every day please pray, “Father God, I ask for and receive the grace I need to live an abundant life of love in Jesus for your glory. Thank you.”
Lamentations three points us beyond the suffering and reminds us of a God who can wipe away every tear and restore the hope and sunshine back into a devastated and despairing soul. Hope springs up in Jeremiah when he remembers the LORD and his faithfulness. God can and will “make everything sad come untrue” as one poet has said:
“Is everything sad going to come untrue?”
—Sam Gamgee to Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings
“[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, chapter 9.
Here is Lamentations 3 in its context. Please read prayerfully. It doesn’t hide the fact that the darkness is very dark, the pain and consequences of sin are very dire. Our song Enter the Silence adapts its lyrics from this chapter:
I am the one who has seen the afflictions
that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger.
2 He has led me into darkness,
shutting out all light.
3 He has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and flesh grow old.
He has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged and surrounded me
with anguish and distress.
6 He has buried me in a dark place,
like those long dead.
7 He has walled me in, and I cannot escape.
He has bound me in heavy chains.
8 And though I cry and shout,
he has shut out my prayers.
9 He has blocked my way with a high stone wall;
he has made my road crooked.
10 He has hidden like a bear or a lion,
waiting to attack me.
11 He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces,
leaving me helpless and devastated.
12 He has drawn his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.
He shot his arrows
deep into my heart.
14 My own people laugh at me.
All day long they sing their mocking songs.
15 He has filled me with bitterness
and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.
16 He has made me chew on gravel.
He has rolled me in the dust.
17 Peace has been stripped away,
and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”
19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
to the yoke of his discipline:
Let them sit alone in silence
beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
and accept the insults of their enemies.
31 For no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
or causing them sorrow.
34 If people crush underfoot
all the prisoners of the land,
35 if they deprive others of their rights
in defiance of the Most High,
36 if they twist justice in the courts—
doesn’t the Lord see all these things?
37 Who can command things to happen
without the Lord’s permission?
38 Does not the Most High
send both calamity and good?
39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain
when we are punished for our sins?
40 Instead, let us test and examine our ways.
Let us turn back to the Lord.
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
to God in heaven and say,
42 “We have sinned and rebelled,
and you have not forgiven us.
“You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down,
and slaughtered us without mercy.
44 You have hidden yourself in a cloud
so our prayers cannot reach you.
45 You have discarded us as refuse and garbage
among the nations.
46 “All our enemies
have spoken out against us.
47 We are filled with fear,
for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.”
48 Tears stream from my eyes
because of the destruction of my people!
49 My tears flow endlessly;
they will not stop
50 until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
51 My heart is breaking
over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.
52 My enemies, whom I have never harmed,
hunted me down like a bird.
53 They threw me into a pit
and dropped stones on me.
54 The water rose over my head,
and I cried out, “This is the end!”
55 But I called on your name, Lord,
from deep within the pit.
56 You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
Hear my cry for help!”
57 Yes, you came when I called;
you told me, “Do not fear.”
58 Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case!
For you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong they have done to me, Lord.
Be my judge, and prove me right.
60 You have seen the vengeful plots
my enemies have laid against me.
61 Lord, you have heard the vile names they call me.
You know all about the plans they have made.
62 My enemies whisper and mutter
as they plot against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Whether they sit or stand,
I am the object of their mocking songs.
64 Pay them back, Lord,
for all the evil they have done.
65 Give them hard and stubborn hearts,
and then let your curse fall on them!
66 Chase them down in your anger,
destroying them beneath the Lord’s heavens.