(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Atlas was the Greek Titan who was punished by Zeus because he led the Titans into battle against the Olympian Gods for control of the heavens. The punishment? Atlas was to perpetually hold up the heavens! Often he is mistakenly shown holding the weight of the world upon his shoulders! Either way, the weight he was forced to carry was a heavy burden indeed!
Do you ever feel like Atlas with a heaviness weighing you down? At those times of suffering, what might be our continual prayer? “How long, oh Lord, must I wait to have this weight removed from off me?” I found a passage in the prophet Jeremiah’s writings that expresses this Weight of Wait, and also the answer the prophet found – Lamentations 3:19 through 25:
Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
I ought to give an explanation of the phrase in the first line, “…the wormwood and the gall….” It is not a common expression today. Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary explains it this way:
- wormwood – “…regarded as poisonous and therefore accursed….”
- gall – “…a poisonous plant, probably the poppy (from its conspicuous head); generally poison (even of serpents)….”
One more word in the first line does not seem to fit most of our troubled times of the Weight of Wait: “…roaming….” What does “…roaming…” mean here? Jeremiah wrote this just after the Babylonian army came the third time and destroyed Jerusalem, especially the temple complex, the palace, and the great houses of the rich!
Here is a quick look at the three deportations of the Jews from their homeland:
- 605 BC – The first deportation involved relatively few Jews, only those of noble birth. This was when Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken to Babylon.
- 597 BC – The second deportation was the result of King Jehoiakim’s rebellion against the rule of Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king besieged Jerusalem, and King Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin and ten thousand captives from the highest levels of Judean society were taken captive to Babylon!
- 586 BC – The last Judean king, Zedekiah, rebelled against Babylon’s rule! Before he was deposed, he authorized Jeremiah’s arrest for saying that he, the king, should arrange and lead a surrender to the enemy! The prophet was put in a dry water cistern and left to die in the mud at the bottom!
The Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem for two and a half years before the gates were breached and the city fell. King Zedekiah was blinded, and he and thousands of Jews were taken to Babylon in chains!
Jeremiah was also taken away in fetters! But the Babylonian Captain of the Guard released him at Ramah (about five miles north of Jerusalem), and sent the prophet back to advise Gedaliah, the governor the Babylonians had appointed to oversee the conquered area of Jerusalem. But Gedaliah was murdered, and a band of the remaining Jews fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah against his will! It was probably in Egypt that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.
So Jeremiah certainly did quite a bit of roaming after Jerusalem’s destruction! And he certainly faced some great trials! We don’t know how long the prophet had to wait for God’s answers in all these trials, but wait he did! Jeremiah continued to rebuke his fellow Jews in Egypt, and, according to tradition, the prophet was stoned to death by those Jews who became exasperated by his opposition to their godless ways! I’m sure the Weight he felt as he Waited for answers to his prayers was heavy and long-lasting!
Jeremiah’s experience isn’t too encouraging if you are under the Weight of Wait! But there is hope even in the prophet’s experience…..if we remember what our featured Scripture says!
- “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (Lamentations 3:21). But you have to have hopeful things already stored in your mind if you are going to recall them in Weighty times! Where do you find such hopeful things? In the Bible! This is one very good reason to memorize Scripture! That way you can “…recall to…mind…” hopeful promises of God at any time!
- “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). God’s mercies and compassions are good, kind, and faithful, as well as ongoing, according to Brown – Driver – Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions. Yes, Weighty experiences that are given to you to bear can happen all around us, and at any time, in this old sinful world! But because of God’s mercies, they don’t have to Weigh us down! Consider Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. (Also read The Light Yoke published April 24, 2013)
- “…we are not consumed….” To be consumed means to be destroyed completely! (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). But in verse 22 of Lamentations 3, the idea is presented in the negative, not consumed. We are freed from being completely Weighed down and destroyed…..because of “…the LORD’s mercies…”!
- “…new every morning….” – Every day God’s compassions are renewed as “a fresh new thing…” (Ibid). This brings to my mind the description of God’s provision of manna in Exodus 16:4: “…the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people will go out and gather a certain quota every day….”
✡ In Numbers 1:46, we are told that God rescued 603,550 men of military age out of Egypt in the Exodus! ✡ When we consider the women, children, and teens, the people who came out of Egypt numbered about two to three million! ✡ Six days every week (except the Sabbath) God would send manna with the morning dew! When the dew lifted, there was the manna on the ground! The manna could be pounded into flour and/or prepared in several ways. Those who went out to collect the manna gathered about a pint of manna for each person in their family! It is estimated that a pint of dry manna might weigh half a pound. If there were three million people to be fed, the LORD would have to send 750 tons of manna every day! And He did this for forty years! That’s al- most ten million tons of manna! ✡ If God can supply 750 tons of manna every day, surely He can manifest His compassions new every morning in the midst of our Weighty problems!
- …“LORD God, ‘… great is Your faithfulness…’ ”!
- …“The LORD is my portion…”!
- “…I hope in Him…”!
But do all these blessings from God come about in our timing? Hardly! That’s why Jeremiah, when he was sorrowing over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity, wrote in Lamentations 3:25 and 26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Jeremiah experienced the Weight of Wait! His life was not easy by any means. And he was martyred by being stoned to death. But what has the prophet experienced for the last two thousand six hundred years?
- He is greatly comforted! (see Luke 16:25).
- He is given great rest! (see Daniel 12:13).
- He shall receive great rewards! (see I Corinthians 2:9).
- He is numbered with the faithful witnesses in heaven! (see Hebrews 12:1).
If you are bearing the Weight of Wait now, remember…
- Psalm 27:13 and 14:
I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Luke 18:7 (Good News Bible) – “…will God not judge in favor of His own people who cry to Him day and night for help? Will He be slow to help them?” NO!
But if we have to bear the Weight of Wait even throughout this life, remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not [even] worthy to compare with the glories that shall be revealed in us.”
Bear up under the Weight of Wait
As we Wait for God’s answer!