Do you recall a time when you were a kid and got into big trouble and received punishment? To name just a couple of my mishaps from 1980s…
The BB gun and the window.
When I destroyed the neighbors very large and expensive window with a single shot from a BB gun. In today’s dollars this window would be approximately $2,000. It was more difficult to apologize to these people in person than it was to work countless hours to earn the funds to pay for the window to be fixed. Lessons learned: Don’t do dumb things. Don’t point guns at homes. While it wasn’t intentional to break the window (I was aiming at a different target), the whole idea was completely stupid.
Spite, a phone, deceit, and Cedar Point.
Out of spite for a lifeguard who was not very nice to me (probably because I was a jerk): While at the swimming pool I took the receiver of a very long corded telephone which was attached to a wall, then I extended the cord as far as it would go, then while looking the lifeguard in the eye I let the receiver fly and crash to the ground. As a result I was banned from the pool until my parents met with the pool leadership.
Only a couple days later I had plans to go to the greatest place on Earth for a 13 year old boy (Cedar Point amusement park) with a good friend. It was near the end of summer, and the pool would be closed soon, therefore this genius hoped that maybe next summer it would all be forgotten. Wrong. When I arrived home from Cedar Point it was like an angry mob was waiting for me.
My sins of anger, selfishness, deceit, and spitefulness (to name only a few) brought some serious wrath. Even to this day I could make several convincing arguments as to the circumstances around the crimes which might make them seem less bad or “not my fault”, but in the end, I was guilty. And those weren’t even the worst things I did.
Noun: a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Complaint.
Verb: express passionate grief about. Express regret or disappointment about something. (Oxford Languages)
In today’s reading (Lamentations 3:1-33) Jeremiah laments over the afflictions of God’s wrath. The first 20 verses are tough to swallow. It is filled with words and themes such as darkness, broken bones, bitterness, hardship, dead, weighed down, cries for help, dragged from the path, mangled, left without help, pierced, mocked, broken teeth, trampled, without peace, hopelessness, and downcast soul.
Aren’t all of those words/themes some resemblance as to what it feels like when we sin? The Cedar Point trip wasn’t that fun because deep down I knew the consequences would be faced soon. Imagine those feelings for an eternity as a result of being separated from God. Our sins are our choices. God’s wrath is a result of our sin, therefore the result of our choices.
Do those afflictions remind you also of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus? And this man Jesus who committed no crime, voluntarily experienced all of those hardships so that ultimately we do not have to experience them for an eternity. He received the punishment so we didn’t have to.
The first twenty verses are dark, then comes the sun, the joy and hope of our loving savior. This joy in the morning comes from our loving God who goes through great lengths each day to reach us so that we may turn to him, to be grateful, to repent, to live life in the abundance of his love and mercy.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone. (Lamentations 3:21-24, 31-33)
No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.