So I know a lot of people working in education, customer service, retail, restaurants, public service, etc., and I hear some of the worst horror stories. Kids acting out in class, customers making outrageous accusations, people who pretend to be good Christians by offering prayers instead of leaving tips.
If you are regularly in these environments, the list goes on. I think for all of us no matter what our job/current state of life is it’s often much easier to share the negative experiences of our day than it is to focus on the positive. Unfortunately, sometimes the negative even overshadows the positive to the point that we forget all the good that happened.
I think it’s beneficial to remember this when we read the Old Testament, especially this next passage from Lamentations. Many people have tried to describe the “God of the Old Testament” and the “God of the New Testament,” as if there are two gods, or as if God just finally decided to be nicer in the New Testament. However, it’s important that we understand
God is both merciful and just, loving Savior and allpowerful Judge. There are not two gods but rather One who is over all the heavens and earth. Throughout the Old Testament, we find that God is often inflicting punishment for sins, and this section of Lamentations basically lays out his anger, as he “destroyed without mercy.” It can be difficult to see how the Lord might be speaking to us in these words, but we must remember this within the context of the rest of the book and the rest of the Bible.
We have already talked about how we have a tendency to focus on our suffering. We usually complain or blame God before humbly admitting our sin. God hates sin, not just in the Old Testament but because He is God and He is Love, and sin is not love. In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Here and in many other passages, death and suffering is still a very real consequence of sin as it was in the Old Testament. However, Jesus teaches people how it is also important to view the big picture to see God’s wrath within the context of His mercy. In this particular section of Lamentations, there is not yet a mention of His mercy. The person speaking believes He has inflicted punishment without mercy, describing Him as fierce, angry, indignant, and destructive, and it is very descriptive of how we often feel at certain points in our own lives.
Ask yourself: How do I see God? Have I been expecting His wrath rather than mercy? Do I identify with my sin? Or put more clearly, do I perceive God’s hatred of sin as a disappointment in me, as if I am the sin itself? Do I know others that struggle to see God’s mercy? Can I do better at showing them love and mercy myself?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God truly loves you, while truly hating sin at the same time.
Pray for the grace to better trust in His Mercy and Love.