“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look around and see.
Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me,
That the Lord brought on me in the day of His fierce anger”
Part of a lament for the destruction of Jerusalem (including Solomon’s Temple in 586 BC, and of course the whole works again in AD 70), this verse illustrates how the Jews didn’t so much have a Babylonian or Roman problem as a “God has had enough” problem. He (and Jeremiah) did not fail to garner the attention of His rebellious people, and contrition and repentance are evident at the end of this book. A few years later in AD ’89 (1989) a young man just out of college felt like he’d gone his own way and prayed for God to “get his attention, whatever it took”. The young man (Okay OKAY, it was me!) had been saved in high school, but after a nice “regenerative year”, started college with a minor in Backsliding.
So, having graduated from college, and feeling like most of my Christian walk up to that time had been more of a stumble, I prayed that prayer (above), and soon after was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma (aka cancer). “Dear Lord, I’m not saying I didn’t mean it- that thing about you getting my attention – but really? Cancer?” He had my attention. It’s amazing the kind of stuff one dives into when deciding to give God this sort of attention. I joined a Navigator’s study at my church and memorized tons of scripture, including the “Roman Road” verses, became more active in the body (for instance) helping out with AWANA, started accountability fellowship with a more mature believer, etc. In short (brace yourself this will blow you away!) I started doing the sort of stuff I should have been doing all along.
As thick in the skull as I am, I am comforted by the fact that I have beside me a book with 66 books worth of compassion, for me and my People (the stiff necked, thick skulled ones). Sometimes the best thing God does for us is to hand us down a new chapter that is not at all to our liking. That chapter for me grew my family much closer, really introduced me to the Body of Christ, and put me back on the right track spiritually. And all of that with a backdrop of feeling quite rotten physically. Though in one sense I was under God’s judgement, I really got to know him as the God of Psalm 91- faithful in protection, comfort and deliverance.
This verse in Lamentations is also one of those gems that foretells Christ’s suffering-the physical abuse, being put on public display for sins not His own, the spiritual agony of taking all sin apon Himself- and that at the instant he was separated from the Father. None of us can begin to fathom suffering of that sort. I praise God that we only need to understand that it was so for our own salvation. Even we believers with extra-thick skulls.