Nineteenth-century businessman Horatio G. Spafford suffered one tragedy after another. His son died of illness. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of his wealth. When he sent his wife, Anna, and four daughters to Europe, a shipwreck claimed the lives of all four girls. During his voyage to rejoin Anna, the place where the disaster occurred was pointed out to him. Spafford went to his room and penned the classic hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.”
How could he do that? How could he say that? Because like Jeremiah in today’s reading, he had unwavering hope in God’s unfailing love (vv. 21–23). Though “the bitterness and the gall” are real and cause his soul to be downcast (vv. 19–20), he recalls an even more important truth: “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.”
What was Jeremiah lamenting? The “yoke” of deserved suffering (v. 27; cf. 1:14), which is suffering that results from reaping what one has sowed and receiving the Lord’s discipline. That comprised the bulk of Jeremiah’s prophecies, and now it was happening to the nation during his lifetime.
His response was to wait quietly on the Lord: “Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him” (v. 28). Putting one’s face in the dust signifies submission to God’s will (v. 29), and turning the other cheek signifies humility before others (v. 30). Both actions are appropriate to the mood, content, and form of lament.
The silence of lament is complex, involving patience, restfulness, and faith-filled expectancy as well as grief, which is strong. But hope is even stronger, because God’s character is the most absolutely real thing in the universe (vv. 31–33; cf. Isa. 54:7–8).
For the next two days, include in your prayers the Financial Aid Office team. Thank the Lord for Heather Shalley, Tammy Easter, and Timothy Krug for their service of helping our students receive a Moody education and go into ministry without debt.