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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Take Ownership

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to Yahweh.
Let us lift up our heart with our hands to God in the heavens.
We have transgressed and have rebelled; you have not pardoned.
You have covered with anger and pursued us; you have killed, you have not pitied.
You have covered yourself with a cloud, so that no prayer can pass through.
You have made us an off-scouring and refuse in the middle of the peoples.
All our enemies have opened their mouth wide against us.
Fear and the pit have come on us, devastation and destruction.
My eye runs down with streams of water, for the destruction of the daughter of my people.
My eye pours down, and doesn’t cease, without any intermission,
Until Yahweh look down, and see from heaven.
— Lamentations 3:40-50 WEB

The Book of Lamentations, thought to be authored by the prophet Jeremiah, is a collection of lamentations on the destruction of Jerusalem and the capture, enslavement and exile of its people. Following these events, many wondered how God could have done these things to His chosen people.
But in this passage, the writer explains that it is not God who is ultimately responsible for these events, but the people themselves. God had given instruction to the people on how to live. But the people and their leadership ignored God. They did not do so all at once, but gradually, a little at a time, to the point where their transgressions did not seem as such to them. But they transgressed none the less.
When the destruction and the enslavement finally came, the people wondered, “How could God do this to us?” But the writer responds, “How could we have done this to ourselves?” The writer calls for self-examination. He calls for the people to take ownership of what has happened to them, to search themselves, and to turn back to God.

As we look to a new year, let us also take ownership of our lives. Let us acknowledge that God loves us and wants the best for us, but we do not always do what is best for ourselves. Let us prayerfully examine and try our ways. Let us ask God to help us recognize the sin, the bad, the things He knows are not the best for us. Let us welcome the pruning process with praise and thanks, knowing that the end will be better than the start. And whatever the outcome, let us remember that God loves us and is with us always.
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