The book of Lamentations is a short book in the Bible comprising only five (5) chapters. I recommend it be read and studied by all backsliders who desire to find their way back to fellowship with God.
In describing the ordeal that the nation of Israel experienced in the book of Lamentations as a result of turning away from God, the backslider will find that the book chronicles his or her own actual journey with incredible accuracy. He or she will feel as if the writer is depicting his or her own story!
This underscores the fact that God is no respecter of persons and if as a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you turn away from him or disobey him, the outcome will ALWAYS be disastrous.
As you read the book of Lamentations, you will find that, across the five (5) chapters, the backslider processes his or her experience along certain themes, often repetitively, as follows:-
1. She remembers where she came from and her former glory, which now lies in stark contrast to her present condition;
2. She weeps and mourns because now:
- Her enemies are prospering and magnifying themselves against her;
- She is experiencing shame, ruin, desolation, captivity and affliction;
- She can find no comforters, has been abandoned is lonely and rejected;
3. She acknowledges her vile condition and does not delude herself. She is in a colossal mess.
4. She acknowledges that she has brought this upon herself and that it is the Lord who has afflicted her in righteousness, for her transgressions (wrongdoing/ disobedience/ rebellion/ sin).
5. She acknowledges that, despite all that she is going through, God has been good, as he has not removed her from the land of the living, as she deserves. In his mercy, he has preserved her life and she is thankful.
6. She senses that despite all that she has been through and is going through, there is still hope in God and the possibility of restoration.
7. She accepts her punishment (chastening) with the right attitude and patience, understanding why it has come, that she is responsible for the fierce anger of the Lord against her and that even after repentance, the punishment must run its appointed course, for the time that God has willed it to be so, if he wills it to be so;
8. She cries out to God from her low dungeon in her desperation, pressure and pain, from the depths of her soul, pouring out her burden before God, believing that, although her past prayers have not enabled her to escape the period God has appointed for her punishment (Lamentations 3:44), that once she persists and approaches God with a truly broken and contrite heart, there will come a day that He will look down from heaven, that he will hear her voice and draw near (Lamentations 3:50, 55-66).
What about you?
If you turned from God and disobeyed him in rebellion to his will, have you yet gone through these eight (8) stages in processing your situation?
I think it is important to note that the picture presented of the backslider in Lamentations is not the picture of one that just quickly glides over her sin, says a quick, flippant prayer of repentance, dismisses it and moves on. No.
Fueled by the extent and longevity of the pain that God has brought into her life, she spends time mourning over her situation, genuinely considering her ways, how far she has gone from God, acknowledging her wrong, accepting responsibility for it and grieving over her sin. During that process, she also cries out to God, knowing that the one that has rightfully afflicted, also has the power to cease the affliction and to right every wrong.
The list mentioned above is important in genuine repentance and it underscores why God chastens his children. As pointed out in Lamentations 3:33-36, the Lord does not take pleasure in punishing his children but it is necessary, where they continue on in rebellion, to get them to that place of genuine repentance.
The scripture states:
- “For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth. To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.”
Yet, of the necessity of chastening (punishment of God’s people), Hebrews 12:5-11 states:
- “…despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
- Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he FOR OUR PROFIT, that WE MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF HIS HOLINESS. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward IT YIELDETH THE PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Now there are some people who may boast, that, although they stopped attending Church and turned away from God or have continued attending Church but are doing their own thing and living rebelliously, they have not gone through the ordeal mentioned in Lamentations and as I have summarized above. They may state (and from all accounts, it looks to be true) that they have been doing very well and prospering and cannot therefore identify with the sufferings in the book of Lamentations.
To such persons, I will say this:
If any person who claimed to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, turns away from him, goes back into the world or commits sin without repenting and that person is not punished/ chastened in a similar manner to what we read in Lamentations or that person is not removed by God from the earth and so that person never genuinely repents of his or her sin but continues on brazenly as if he or she did not commit sin and never truly returns in humility and repentance to the foot of the cross, then it means that that person was never genuinely a child of God. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth EVERY son whom he receiveth.”
Based on the Word of God therefore, it means that such a person is not recognized by God as one of his but is in fact in the clutches of the evil one, the devil, who is still his or her master. If such a person never comes to a place where he or she believes that Jesus rose from the dead and confesses that he is Lord with his or her mouth, then such a person will go the way of the rest of the world because that person is of the world and not of God.
Given that that person has chosen to be on the losing side, he or she is condemned already and will inevitably come to ruin, misery and destruction either in this life or when he or she dies, when he or she will face God’s final judgment.
I personally cannot recall any sin (whether big or small) that I have committed, that the Lord has allowed me to get away with. He brings conviction to every bona fide child of his about the wrong he or she has done or is engaged in and if they insist on continuing on rebelliously in it without repentance, he intervenes to bring them to their knees with sufferings or removes them from the world.
(Written on 06th May, 2020)