Good Questions on Lamentations 5
by Josh Hunt WWW.joshhunt.com

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Introduction

We often think of godliness with reference to behavior: doing good. This lesson addresses the fact that being like God also means feeling like God. Godly people get mad, sad and glad in the same way that God gets mad, sad and glad.

Lamentations 5

OPEN

DIG

  1. As we read this passage, how would you describe the mood of the writer?
  2. Who is the writer?
  3. What year did he live? What is the general historical setting of his life? What is he sad about?
  4. I want us to get firmly in our mind the situation that Jeremiah is in. Look over the chapter again, and call out anything you see that describes the situation. For example, verse 2 says their inheritance has been turned over to aliens. What else is wrong?(1)
  5. The word that describes Jeremiah's mood to me as well as any other is the word sadness. I want us to talk today about the place that sadness should have in the believer's life. We will be looking at such issues as, "Do we try to avoid sadness or, should we try to 'get in touch with our pain'?" Let's stay with Jeremiah for a moment. Was it appropriate; was it right for Jeremiah to feel sad as he did?
  6. In Philippians 4:4 Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always." If we could transport Paul back to the 6th century B.C. in Jeremiah's time, what do you think he would say to Jeremiah? Do you think he would say, "Cheer up, Jeremiah, rejoice. Be happy! Quit lamenting."
  7. When the Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord always, does it mean that we should not ever be sad?(2)
  8. Let me ask you to look up several other verses that speak to this: James 4:9, Matthew 5:4, II Corinthians 7:10 - 11, Ecclesiastes 3:4, John 11:35 and Isaiah 53:3.(3) What do these verse teach us about the role of sorrow in the believer's life?
  9. Why is it important, at times, for believers to mourn?
  10. Let me make this very practical and specific. Suppose you knew someone who said they were never sad about anything. They were happy all the time. Is this good or bad? What is wrong, if anything, with being happy all the time?(4)
  11. Don't answer this one out loud, just think about it. Do you tend to be a person who is sad too easily-- that is, do you find yourself gloomy when you ought to be obedient to the command to rejoice? Or, would you think you fall off on the side of being too happy-go-lucky; perhaps not taking life seriously enough.
  12. Does godliness imply having an appropriate emotional state, or does it have only to do with what we do? Does God care how we feel, or is he only concerned with our behavior? Could I sin by feeling wrong?
  13. Are my emotions within my control? Suppose I were to admit that I tend to be consistently disobedient to the command to "grieve, morn, wail." How could I become a person who felt that?
  14. Conversely, suppose I were a person given to melancholy depression. How could I move in the direction of becoming a person who "rejoiced in the Lord always"?

APPLY


1. We have to know what the Bible says before we know what it means. Many people do not read all that well. They may be lost during much of the rest of the hour if we do not help them to clearly understand the situation. Take your time with this one; add background information from you reading. For resources to supplement this lesson, call 1 (800) 458 2772

2. One of the rules of interpreting the Bible is that the Bible is written in normal, everyday, non-technical language. It is written in the language of the street that is commonly understood by common people. It is not written in lawyer-speak. If we say, "Everyone in Atlanta loves the Braves," we do not take that to mean that every single person living within the city limits of Atlanta is a raving, crazy brave fan. We would accept that statement as true, in fact, even if there were some Yankee fans living in Atlanta. This is what is easily understood in common, everyday language. When Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always," he means that joy should characterize the Christian life. Joy should be our normal countenance. The Bible does not teach that there should never be a time when we are sad. Jesus himself was called a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

By the way, there may come up in this conversation a certain line of thinking that I would challenge. Sometimes I hear believers say, "'Rejoice in the Lord' is not an emotion. It has nothing to do with emotions. It is a deeeeeeeeeeep abiding awareness of this and that." They say this with long faces and a growl. I don't buy it. I think when Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord," he meant we ought to smile more than we frown.

3. Have individuals look up and read these verses:

James 4:9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

II Corinthians 7:10 - 11 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 [There is. . .] A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

4. We live in a sinful world. Sin grieves the heart of God and it should grieve our heart as well. We should be mournful with godly repentance over our own sin. We should also grieve over sins committed against us, in the same way that God grieves over sins committed against Him.