“Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,
Unless the Lord has commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That both good and ill go forth?

(Lamentations 3:37-38)

My mind was somewhat jolted awake as I read and re read this text during my private devotions this last week. I was forced to ask the question; “Is that how it really goes down? Does the Lord send both the good and the bad?  

According to the text above this is how it goes down. The situation in this historic setting is all about the atrocities and mayhem happening to Jerusalem and God’s own people. Jeremiah is lamenting the severity and harshness of the judgment that Jerusalem is suffering.

Then he comes to a sound and right theological conclusion. Nothing, good or bad happens without God’s permission, or without His authorisation. As a matter of fact Jeremiah says “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?”

In other words, whatever happens, and in Jeremiah’s case it was really bad, this was approved by the Lord. But we ask as Jeremiah did, “Why Lord?” This was judgment upon Judah for their rebellion against the Lord but there is a further and more personal reason for the Lord’s judgment indicated in v.40 of this same chapter. “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.” 

Let us be like Jeremiah and certainly ask questions, but let us ask, beginning with a right understanding of who God is in all the affairs of men. Let us see and understand that God is the sovereign ruler of the entire universe and nothing happens outside of His authoritative consent. And even the bad stuff, which we encounter, is designed so that His people might examine their ways and return to the Lord. After all, the Lord is also “compassionate and abundant in lovingkindness and does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men.” (Lam.3:32-33).