We saw in our readings in Job yesterday that Job was so depressed he declared, “I loathe my life”. However, we recall the comment we made as we began reading Job that the ultimate end of the book is one of wonderful restoration.
Today we have the final chapter of the prophecy of Micah which begins, ‘Woe is me’! Remarkably, as with all the smaller prophets we have been reading in recent weeks, the final message God gives through them ends with a triumphant picture of ultimate blessing.
But the earlier part of this chapter, which describes the lawless attitudes surrounding the prophet, uses words which could just about describe life as it is around many of us today. “The godly has perished from the earth”, he writes, and “there is no one upright … put no trust in a neighbour; and have no confidence in a friend” (verses 2,5).
Family life in Israel had broken down, “the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother” (verse 6). Then the prophet seems to step back and make a fuller reflection on the situation from his personal perspective and sets us a great example, “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me” (verse 7).
That is the power of positive faith, this is the spirit we need and may need more and more, especially if we feel overwhelmed by events and we are tempted to cry, “Woe is me”.
The concluding verses indicate the final blessings for God’s people, it is a message for those who seek to maintain and build up their faith, and also those who have sought repentance after failure. “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance … he will again have compassion on us” (verses 18,19). May he have compassion on us too – for no one is perfect – but our aim must be to “go on to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1, AV) or “go on to maturity” (ESV) so that we can “draw near (to God and our saviour, the Lord Jesus) with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22).