We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

A Youthful Yoke, Part 1

During my course of study on adolescent conflict and restoration, I came across an interesting truth in the book of Lamentations. As I began digging I knew I had struck gold!

“It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27).

Jeremiah pours out his heart as he endures the unbearable rejection of his peers. He feels unloved and devalued, and spends a significant amount of time blaming God for his deepest hurts and unmet longings. He literally blames God for using him as target practice! Listen to what he says:

“He bent His bow, and set me as a target for His arrows” (Lamentations 3:12).

Half of Lamentations 3 is devoted to blaming God for this seemingly incurable despair. When you consider the accusations Jeremiah levels against God, it’s hard to square these things with God’s character. How do we reconcile these charges against God by a man who suffered terribly as a result of following God’s instructions to deliver His message?

What we know about God is that He is love, and in Him is no darkness at all. He loves us so much that He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might possess the righteousness of God. But in his despair, Jeremiah blames God. He is blinded by his sorrow.

Though God was not the cause of Jeremiah’s unmet longings, He was the cause of Jeremiah’s difficult circumstances (Lamentations 3:32)–and for good reason. Jeremiah’s complaint follows the pattern of what most adolescents experience when they feel unloved and devalued. These feelings of despair and inner turmoil, though unpleasant, are a necessary step in the maturing process. To protect our adolescents from this process is to delay their transition into adulthood.

Today, we have many twenty-, thirty-, and forty-year-olds who are stuck in an adolescent mindset. They simply have not grown up. Apart from interacting with God, it is impossible to reach genuine maturity.

Tomorrow we’ll continue to discuss the importance of bearing the yoke in one’s youth.

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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