“Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord.
Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
to God in heaven, and say:
‘We have sinned and rebelled
and you have not forgiven.’”
~Lamentations 3:40-42 (NIV).
It is difficult to comprehend the heartrending sorrow that ensues from these verses through the rest of Lamentations; the one real only highlight of hope having fleetingly passed in verses 21–33.
The one broad settling message of Lamentations is the remorse of the writer, and of the people—the exiles—for having sinned nationally against the Lord, their God. For this they’re carried off captive, prisoners to a strange land and foreign culture.
This would be like us living in the 1940s under a Nazi regime, although the comparison is a rather coarse one.
The issue of sin that had plagued the nation of Israel came from bent hearts; and from the same place comes the turning back—repentance is founded at the innermost portions of one’s being, remorse again tearing at the heart, convincing of the need to change and committing to it.
We often don’t learn our lessons until it’s too late. That’s okay as far as God’s concerned. His wisdom is such that his judgment, via the natural consequences that come about, comes no matter our response. My biggest life lesson involved me repenting and being blessed for repenting—but it still didn’t stop the consequences of my sin. Once the wheels were set in motion... simply relief takes longer than we’d prefer.
So, in this, we’re encouraged to take something from the first verse profiled—‘let us examine our ways and test them... let us return to God.’ This needs to be the daily chant of our hearts as we get into the habit and routine of examining our moments, our situations and our circumstances—aligning them to our perception of God’s will. And we can only truly know God’s heart on life matters if we’re continually repenting and seeking him.
The concluding verses of Psalm 139 take us to this destination of the heart that we seek to acquire:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
~Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV).
This is to be our way... “Lord, lead me in that way, everlasting.” This is us inviting the heart of God residing in us to make his thoughts known to us: searching, testing, highlighting, leading... the process ensuing... God having his way with us.
In our heart of hearts we know we need this. The best of life is yet to be lived out of this frame.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.