Then We Will Know Peace

What we read here in Lamentations 3 is a picture of someone who is suffering extreme misery due to the sins of others, and due to no fault of his own. It was their sins which was causing him such misery. Because of their sins all this calamity was coming upon him. And even though he was not deserving of such suffering, yet he suffered, just the same.

Lamentations 3:1-3 ESV

“I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.”

Although there does seem to be some debate over who authored the book of Lamentations, it is generally accepted that it was authored by Jeremiah, the prophet of God, who God had used over a long period of time to warn the Lord’s people that they needed to repent of their sins of idolatry and of spiritual adultery or face the wrath of God. The people did not listen to God and to the prophet, and so now this calamity was upon them all.

And sometimes, although none of us are totally innocent, those who did not do the wrong, and who did not reject the Lord, and who did not ignore the Lord or refuse to obey him will suffer because of the sins of others, either because the Lord is punishing a large group of people among whom also the faithful dwell, or because the sins of others are what are causing the pain and suffering of the afflicted directly.

And it is this second possibility I believe the Lord wants me to discuss today, for there are many people in this world who are being sinned against, some of whom are not able to defend themselves because they are still minors under the care and supervision of adults. And I believe the subject he wants me to discuss today is that of sexual abuse of minor children by a parent. For, I was one of those children, so I know very well the pain and suffering.

Lamentations 3:7-9, 16-18 ESV

“He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
he has made my paths crooked.

“He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, ‘My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.’”

I can still remember the day at summer camp sitting on one of those hard benches in an open air pavilion and feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit for my sins as I sat and listened to the preacher preach. My heart was so heavy. But a lot of that heaviness was not for my own sins, but because of the sins that were being committed against me, and over which I felt I had no control, for this began when I was five or six years old.

But I don’t want to make this about me other than I can write about this from personal experience, for there are many children in the world today, including here in America, who are where I was, feeling helpless and hopeless, hurting deeply, feeling as though there was no way out, with nowhere to turn but to God, and even finding with faith in Jesus that the suffering did not cease, but it continued.

Sexual offenders are bullies. They are those who take advantage of those who are weaker than them, those who are vulnerable, who are not able to defend themselves. Some of these sex offenders abuse in other ways, too. Some of them are physically abusive with their fists and with their words, and so they damage others not just sexually but physically, emotionally, and mentally. That was my dad. And this describes many dads, sad to say.

The child being sexually abused feels helpless, and indeed she feels as though she can’t escape, and her chains are indeed heavy, and she feels every ounce of them. And though she cries for help, she doesn’t see her prayers being answered, for the abuse continues. Now, I did see the Lord as my comforter, but I did not see him as my rescuer, and so I decided in my mind that he was incapable of rescuing me.

Oh, I recall vividly this cowering in fear. What a vivid picture to describe a child who is being abused and taken advantage of and overpowered by a bully who has full power and authority over her to do as he pleased. There is no peace for sure, for there is always the fear of when will be the next time. You never feel safe, not at all! And yes, you feel absolutely sad and miserable and you cry a lot, too, for there seems no way out.

Lamentations 3:19-24 ESV

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

I prayed to the Lord Jesus all the time when I was a child, with tears streaming down my face, praying for his protection, and for his healing mercies, but he didn’t physically remove the suffering from me only for a very short period of time and then my dad was back in authority over me again. And that was one of the scariest days of my life knowing he was coming back home, for we had had relative peace for about 1.5 years.

And the Lord doesn’t always remove our suffering. He allows us to go through difficult times and hardships and persecutions because he allows sin to exist in the world. And for a child this is very hard to understand. And I think that is why, in my mind, I decided that he was not capable of rescuing me. I think that is the way I dealt with it then. And I imagine that children who are suffering such today find ways to cope with their suffering, too.

And it is difficult for some people, whether they are children or adults, to accept that God’s love never ceases and that his mercies never come to an end and that he is completely faithful in all that he does when they are suffering such abuse and persecution, especially at the hands of the people who are supposed to love and protect them, and when they are not seeing the mercies of the Lord in the way that they had hoped for.

And I empathize with them. My heart goes out to all children who are suffering abuse, especially at the hands of a parent who has full authority and control over them and can do to them whatever he/she wants. And I weep for them. And I pray for their safety and for their protection. For the protection of the innocent is uppermost on my mind and heart. I hurt for the hurting.

But the reality here is that we live in a fallen world. We are all sinners by nature, capable of any sin given the circumstances that might lead anyone to commit such sins. Since God gives us free will to choose him or not, and Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Lord, we are all born into sin. And we are all given the choice to choose our sin or to choose God. But choosing God does not free us from others sinning against us.

So, we must make the choice, as children and as adults, to choose the Lord despite our suffering, and even if he does not rescue us from our suffering, and even if he allows the suffering to continue. We can’t make conditions with God that will determine if we will follow him or not. Following the Lord, in fact, is sharing with him in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Therefore, when we put our hope in the Lord, it can’t be on the condition that he rescues us physically from our suffering. We have to trust in his sovereignty over our lives, no matter how hard that may be. We can certainly pray for deliverance, but we must believe him even if physical deliverance does not take place. We must choose to put our hope in him regardless of our circumstances. And then we will know peace.

The Prayer

Written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager,
Alberto Testa and Tony Renis

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When the stars go out each night
Remind us where you are.

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

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