The entire book of Lamentations forms a chiastic structure, and Lam 3 is its central axis. In fact, the central axis, Lam 3, forms its own chiastic structure by itself:
1A) Lam 3:1-18, The LORD has afflicted Zion;
1B) Lam 3:19-21, Zion’s hope;
CENTRAL AXIS) Lam 3:22-36, The LORD’s mercy and goodness;
2B) Lam 3:37-42, Let Zion return to the LORD;
2A) Lam 3:43-66, Zion’s afflictions.
Yesterday we saw that the LORD inflicted sorrow on Jerusalem because He was after godly sorrow leading to repentance and salvation, rather than worldly sorrow leading to death. Today we learn, that when Zion considers and remembers the afflictions and bitterness she has suffered, that her soul is bowed down within her (Lam 3:20). The Hebrew for “bowed down” is the same as “humbled”(Strong’s H7743, shuwach, to sink down, to be bowed down, to be humbled). Her sufferings cause her pride to be humbled. Rather than proudly exalting herself against the LORD, determined to go her own way and refusing to submit to the LORD’s instruction or commandments, as she was before she was afflicted, now the LORD has wrought within her humility of heart (“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes,” Psa 119:71).
The heart of Lamentations is Lam 3:22-36: there was none to comfort Zion in her affliction, but she comforts herself when she remembers that the LORD is merciful and compassionate, faithful and good to those who seek Him.
Just because we belong to God, we are not immune to suffering, trials, or tribulation. Jesus told us that in this world we would have tribulation (Joh 16:33). In fact, because the LORD is our Father, and He is a good and faithful Father, who does not let His children run wild or remain in wickedness, we might just experience more tribulation than the next guy. He will chastise, punish, and afflict as needed, to purge us of pride, rebellion, and sin.
Moreover, the LORD does not afflict anyone capriciously or willingly, or ordain grief for men. For oppression, crushing, injustice, subversion — all of these things, the LORD does not approve of when men do them to men, nor does He do them Himself. But if a man is afflicted by the LORD, there is a reason for it (Lam 3:31-36).
When we go through suffering, however, we are not without hope — even if we are suffering because we have called it down upon our own heads. We must remind ourselves and comfort ourselves as Zion has, that even if the earth is iron under our feet and the sky brass above our heads, the LORD will not cast off forever. He is good to those who wait silently for Him, hoping in His faithfulness, not complaining when we are punished for our sins.
And there is something proactive we can do, when in the middle of suffering, rather than just waiting for it to end. We can search out and examine our ways and see if they are in accordance with the LORD’s ways. (The Torah is the Bible’s dictionary of God’s ways, His definition of righteousness and sin.) We can seek the LORD, and ask Him to reveal to us our transgression and sin, although He probably has been all along. We can repent, and turn back to God.
When we call on Him when we are at our lowest point, He will hear our voice – He will draw near to us and redeem our lives!