The implication of today’s reading in Lamentations is that this came suddenly, or that all the preparations were annihilated. The sad reality is that sometimes things that came “suddenly” were actually quite predictable. God sent multiple prophets. Before the Israelites even entered the Promised Land, Moses had warned them. It shouldn’t have been a surprise.
We can look around us and see plenty of people who follow this same pattern. Whether they make bad relationship decisions, money decisions, career decisions, education decisions, or something else, they continue to make the same mistake and wonder what went wrong.
God wasn’t upset with the Israelites for making mistakes or even wandering away, except that they continued to do it until it became the lifestyle.
God knows that we all will make mistakes. That’s part of the current human condition. That wasn’t supposed to be, but we chose (and choose) to go our own way.
We are embraced, loved, adopted, and reconciled as we are. We aren’t supposed to stay that way. The world understands this Truth. If you were to actually visit a physical bookstore (yes, they still exist) or look at the slate of newly published books, the biggest movers and often the greatest number of published titles are all “self-help”. The world knows that we are to improve and grow. We are not to stay the same.
Despite that, when the Scriptures (or the faithful Jesus-following community) call us to account to change, we push back. We say, “no” or “God made me this way.” And before you think (too late, I’m sure) that “they” should know that too (“they” being whomever many progressive or conservative Christians oppose), it isn’t about “them” or “they”, it is about us.
Paul calls on the Corinthians to be “the best” in regard to faith, speech, knowledge, commitment (there’s a really hard one these days), and love (okay, maybe this one’s harder). The best. Not okay. Not good. Not satisfactory. The best.
We don’t start out as “the best”. As individuals, we may never be “the best” at any or all. Collectively, as the church, we have the potential to be “the best” at them all, but only if we are willing to be changed and work in partnership with the Holy Spirit and our fellow believers.
- What struck you about the passage in Lamentations? Do you see yourself or your circumstances anywhere?
- What areas of your life have you had the greatest struggle surrendering to Jesus? What areas of your life do you think need the greatest amount of change to be in line with the character and nature of Jesus Christ?
- “The best” is a high mark. Why should we aim at a mark we probably will never hit? How do we keep from being discouraged when we miss?
As we seek to do your will, may we be transformed. As we pursue holiness, may we not be discouraged. As we fail and err, may we recognized that it is you who picks us back up. Amen.