There are some confused notions about the nature of God, as there have always been. People get their minds stuck on an aspect or a combination of aspects, either positive or, perceptively, negative of the God of this world and develop a skewed view of who He is.
His sovereignty is seen as cruelty. His grace is seen as hand-wringing weakness. Our weaknesses and predilections paint a picture of God that does not fit the picture painted in scripture. This central verse, in its location in Jeremiah’s Lamentations, paints a vibrant picture of a God who is unafraid to discipline His people, yet gets no joy from it either.
[God] is not predisposed to afflict or to grieve people.
Lam 3:33 (NET)
So what is God’s “disposition”? It is to be just, yet merciful. God’s mercy always comes first which is why so many people have difficulty understanding events like the judgment of the Canaanites or even what had befallen the ten tribes of the Northern. Israel or was about to come upon Judah as the prophet Jeremiah grieved.
Judah’s disobedience through idolatry and its associated evils have brought about invasion and defeat by the Babylonians. In spite of the warnings and calls for a top-down repentance and return to God, their stubborn sinfulness has resulted in their imprisonment in a distant land, the destruction of their temple, and the deaths of thousands of their countrymen.
While God does not enjoy afflicting men with pain, He, as a compassionate and holy, put emphasis there, HOLY God, by His righteousness nature, must punish sin, the rebellion that exists in us and outside of us as our thoughts and actions. Sin’s ultimate, consuming end is brought about in a place called Hell, a place of continuous loneliness and torment, a place not made for man, but his end nonetheless if he refuses the offer of God.
God’s offer is as simple then as now: repent and believe. Repent of our sins, reject them for the misery and pain they cause in our lives right now, and brought to fruition in the next. Believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, the perfect, sinless lamb who came to take the full punishment for your sins and mine, and bring us into a right relationship with God as sons.