When was the last time you read Lamentations? The name alone sounds depressing. But yesterday I read it beginning to end, and found hope smack dab in the middle of it!
Looking back over this year, have you found yourself lamenting? I don’t mean the sadness you might feel about missing a great sale at your favorite store. I mean passionately grieving or mourning for something.
Lamenting isn’t something that can be hidden. It’s outwardly expressed through weeping or wailing. Have you been there this year? Is there something, or maybe even more than one thing, that has rocked your world to the core and left you emotionally shipwrecked to the point that you couldn’t hold it in any longer?
My friend, perhaps you should read Lamentations. This short book in the Old Testament (just after Jeremiah) mourns the destruction of Jerusalem, its Temple, and most of its citizens. It is not an easy read, as it describes well the suffering of the remaining people of Judah under the hands of their enemies. There was much to mourn.
But this is what I found in the middle of Chapter 3:
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’ The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.
And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the LORD’s demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.
For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow” (Lamentations 3:20-33 NLT).
Do you believe these things about your heavenly Father? In the midst of grief, He is still good. He is still loving and merciful. He is still faithful and compassionate. Your pain did not bring him pleasure.
I cannot tell you why you had to go through your grief and pain. Was it someone else’s doing? Perhaps. Was it a consequence of your own choices? Maybe. Was it a season of discipline that God used to prune and shape you, causing your roots to grow deeper in him? Possibly.
I do not know the reason you lamented this year. But I do know the One who does. I know Who formed your heart, and knows everything about you. I know Who loves you so much that He gave his Son to die, to take the punishment for your sin. I know Who wants you to become a new creation abounding with new life. I know Who wants to fill your life with joy, peace, and hope no matter what circumstances life may bring you.
While you have breath, you can count yourself among the young and follow Jeremiah’s advice to “submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline” (Lamentations 3:27). The sooner you submit to God’s hand, the sooner you’ll discover his hope, even in the most sorrowful times. “For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love” (Lamentations 3:31-32).
My friend, I have been there. I’ve made it to the other side, and I now have an even deeper faith and trust in my heavenly Father.
As we near a new year, firmly determine to put your hope in God! His love will not fail you.