Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. — Lamentations 3:57
During the 1930s, a missionary to India found herself battling discouragement. Her physical, mental, and emotional reserves were spent, and she wondered whether she could find the courage to go on. Desperate, she appealed to her one source of strength: God in Heaven, who knew exactly what she was facing. And God answered her prayer in a remarkable way.
Though unaware of how very discouraged this missionary was, or how exhausted her resources were, a friend back home felt led to send the missionary a record of a newly published song, “He Giveth More Grace” written by Annie Johnson Flint. When the record arrived, the missionary excitedly placed it on her Victrola record player and began to listen to the song. The words spoke to her soul:
He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as the labors increase,
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
When the record got to the phrase “He giveth and giveth and giveth . . .” the needle on her Victrola got stuck — and over and over again she heard that phrase. Each time the words sounded in her humble room, her assurance in the faithfulness of God deepened, until there was absolute joy in her heart. God had drawn near, and she realized anew that God truly wanted her to experience His unlimited and overflowing provisions for her needs.
In today’s focus verse, Jeremiah reminisced about a time when God had drawn near and brought encouragement to him. At one point in his ministry to rebellious Judah, the prophet had been thrown into a dungeon and left to die (Jeremiah 38:6-13). As he had prayed desperately for deliverance from that dreadful situation, God had drawn near and answered with the reassuring words, “Fear not.”
Although most of us may not find ourselves in a faraway land preaching the Gospel, or in a dungeon because of our faith, all of us will face challenges in our walks with the Lord. In those times, it will help us to remember that God is always faithful to hear and respond to the cries of His people. Like the message to the missionary, His words to us may be, “He giveth more grace . . .” It may be, “Fear not . . .” as it was to the Prophet Jeremiah. However the encouragement comes, we can be sure that God is with us and knows exactly what is needed to lift our spirits.
This portion of chapter 3 moves away from the prophet’s theme of confidence and hope in God (verses 19-38) into a call for repentance. In the first four verses of the text, Jeremiah exhorted the people to acknowledge their transgressions and once again cry out to God. In verse 42, the prophet returned again to the theme of affliction, and his words became a prayer. Judah had angered God and this brought not only physical punishment but also spiritual isolation from God. Verse 44 states the people’s prayers could not pass through the barrier God had permitted.
The desolation of Judah caused Jeremiah to shed many tears. It is no wonder that he was known as the weeping prophet. His tears would be without ceasing until God looked down from Heaven (verses 48-51).
In verses 52-54, the prophet reflected upon a time when his enemies had hunted him down, cast him into a dungeon, and left him in the mire at the bottom. It appears that a stone was then placed over the top of the dungeon, or that stones were cast down upon him (verse 53). Jeremiah had realized that his life was in peril, for in this portion of Scripture he recalled his prayer for deliverance from the horrific circumstance. In verses 55-58, Jeremiah remembered the assurance he had received that God had heard his cry and would deliver and redeem him.
Jeremiah was confident, as recorded in verses 59-66, that God was aware of the pain and anguish suffered by both Judah and himself personally. He felt that God would do whatever was necessary to bring about a just and proper end to the situation.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The lamentation and prayer of Jeremiah
C. The prayer of Jeremiah (3:39-66)
1. The prayer of repentance (3:39-51)
2. The prayer of vindication (3:52-66)
When we face challenges in our Christian walks, we can cry out to the Lord and be assured that He hears and will bring us the encouragement we need.