Worship in defeat
Listened to a really great talk at church tonight
Lamentations 3:10-33,52-59 (NIV)
Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding,  he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.  He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.  He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.  I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.  He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall.  He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.  I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.  So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord."  I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;  it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.  Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.  Let him bury his face in the dust---there may yet be hope.  Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.  For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.  Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.  Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird.  They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me;  the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to be cut off.  I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit.  You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief."  You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear."  O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life.  You have seen, O Lord, the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!
Authentic worship is an act of the will and is not an emotion and is focused on God and who He is.
The book of Lamentations is a book of grief stricken poems and was written in the early days of exile.
The book comes between the big prophetic books of the Bible and was written by Jeremiah.
Jeremiah had one of the toughest life-long stories in the Bible.
Most of the time the people were pretty indifferent to God and fell into flame worship. The kingdom of Judea survived but still didn't learn their lesson.
The calling of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 1:1-10 (NIV)
The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.  The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,  and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.  The word of the Lord came to me, saying,  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. "  "Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."  But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, `I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord.  Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.  See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."
As well as destruction there was hope. There is always an ultimate positive purpose for the works of God even when we can't see them along the way.
Jeremiah 1:17 (NIV)
"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
For 40 years he was a lone voice in the final years of the kingdom of Judea.
The message: judgement on the wayward people of Judea.
He had a hard time and often felt suicidal.
Jeremiah 1:19 (NIV)
They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord.
He knew his God and trusted in his God.
This is the basis of the authentic worship we read in Lamintations.
He knew aged and trusted in His word.
Jeremiah 20:7-10 (NIV)
O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived ; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.  Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.  But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.  I hear many whispering, "Terror on every side! Report him! Let's report him!" All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, "Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him."
Jeremiah has had enough ...
Jeremiah 20:8 (NIV)
Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.
He looks to the God he knows ..
Jeremiah 20:11-13 (NIV)
But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.  O Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.  Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.
He worships, he connects and engages with God and sees a better future.
He sees hope in the future but his present is still the same but he can still give authentic worship.
Lamentations 3:52-60 (NIV)
Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird.  They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me;  the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to be cut off.  I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit.  You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief."  You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear."  O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life.  You have seen, O Lord, the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!  You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against me.
God had kept the promises he had given Jeremiah when he was called.
He felt he was in a pit.
Lamentations 3:53 (NIV)
They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me;
Wherever we end up on the way down there is always away backup if we look back to God. This might take someone else pointing us back in the right direction.
If we feel that we have got into a downward spiral and are ending up in a pit we should talk to someone in church - to help talk it through and re-engage with God.
Jeremiah had one pit after and other and his feelings of depression didn't go away but he focused on the God he knew and worshipped in an authentic way.
Jeremiah also brought a message of hope. He had three prophesies which although he never saw in his lifetime they did happen.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NIV)
"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.
His was fulfilled in Jesus.
Jeremiah 31:23 (NIV)
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: `The Lord bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain.'
Again this was fulfilled in Jesus and continues through us.
We have far greater revelation of God's purpose than Jeremiah ever did.
When things are not great sometimes we can only see the sides of the pit. We should look to God.