Today we’re going to take one more look at this passage. I think it’s so rich that you could spend a lot more time on it, but this’ll be enough for now.
The author of this little book—presumably Jeremiah—is looking at the remains of his old life and everything he’s ever known. The nation he lived in, the temple he attended, and the people he knew are all gone. This book is an attempt to sort through and work through all this and come up with some answers.
What it all comes down to, as far as he’s concerned, is one clarifying question: “Do you trust God?” Do you really think he knows what he’s doing, and do you still believe he’s good and still in charge? The answer to that will direct the course of your life and pretty much everything in it.
To the author, the answer to that is a resounding “Yes.” But today’s passage is more than a beautiful statement of trust in the Lord while in the middle of calamity. There are some practical ways you can show that trust:
1) Wait patiently for him (vs. 26, 28). I know that when experiencing grief, most people try to keep busy so they don’t have to think about what they’ve lost. If you’ve lost someone close to you, the last thing you want is to sit around and think about it. And to a much lesser extent, this would apply to any other huge loss, like the loss of a job or one’s home.
Of course you don’t want to sit around and wallow in the loss. But that’s very different from what the author is counseling here. There’s a difference between just sitting around in grief and waiting patiently for the Lord to come to you. Cry out to him. Read through the Psalms, especially those written by those going through extreme hardship like yourself. Take a moment to grieve and wait for his comfort.
2) Along with this, be silent and listen. He might be trying to say something to you. "The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him." Among other things, seeking him means listening to him.
3) Know and fix it in your mind what kind of God you’re serving. We can argue back and forth how much of a direct hand the Lord had in your suffering. At the very least, he allowed it to happen, and he did so for good reason. But "[He] does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone." He doesn't enjoy seeing anyone suffer, much less one of his children. Like Job, you might not know in this life why he’s doing what he’s doing, but you can know him, which will be good enough.
4) Finally, you can focus on the fact that this is not the end of your story. For every redeemed child of God, it can truly be said that the best is yet to come. The author hints at it: “"For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." Just to be clear, this is referring to believers, not to those are outside of Christ. There will come a day when those are still under his wrath will be cast off forever.
But for those of in his redeemed family, we can know that suffering is not the end of our story. Though he brings us grief in this life, we can know that eventually we’ll see the full measure of his unfailing love. And that won’t be worthy to be compared with the suffering we might experience in this sin-wrecked world.
So then we come back to that clarifying question: Do I trust him? And if so, do I show it?
Lord Jesus, I do trust you. Not nearly as much as I should. Can you help with that, please? “O for grace, to trust [you] more.”