“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me” (Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV).
I think that most of us have had those days when our “soul is downcast” within us. Those days when we feel like everything is just going wrong. Those days when everything we say comes out wrong and we seem to cause more division than anything. Those days when it doesn’t just rain or pour, but we really feel like the weight of the entire universe is crushing us and taking away our very ability to breath. For far too many people, these are not just days, but weeks, months, years, and even lifetimes. We all have times we could lament.
I look at our world today and, to be honest, I often lament. I lament the reality that everyday a marriage is dissolved. I lament the reality that every day a child must decide between acceptance and well-being. I lament that our “one nation, indivisible” seems to be so divided and full of hatred for one another. I lament that too many pastors only strive to make a living. I lament that we seem to struggle with being able to actually empathize for those who suffer things we have never experienced. I lament, and often my soul is downcast within me.
Jeremiah prophesied a message of truth to the Israelites. He shared God’s message that the people needed to repent, obey God, and stop bringing destruction into the world. They refused, and the enemy came. The people were killed, displaced, or taken into captivity. The temple was destroyed. Their way of life seemed to be gone forever. Their very identity seemed to go up in smoke with the temple.
In the midst of his lamentation, Jeremiah says something that is at the core of every word found in the Scriptures. Jeremiah laments and says:
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him” (3:21-24).
He is able to lament the reality that his life, and the life of his people, has been turned upside down. He laments this, but then chooses to call a truth to mind, a truth that Jeremiah says is the reason he has hope. This truth is that God’s love is so great we are not entirely consumed by the evils of this world. Sure, it may feel as if we are desperately close to being completely overwhelmed, but God’s compassion for us never fails. Every day we are given the opportunity to receive His mercy. Every day, God gives us the opportunity to receive His strength. Every day, God gives us the opportunity to become a light into this world. Everyday!
I look at this world today and lament, but I am driven by hope! By a real hope in the knowledge that God’s love is great. Not just for me, but for every person on this planet. I lament, but I find hope because every day, God’s grace reaches a struggling couple and they find the conviction to fight for their love. I lament, but I find hope because every day, God’s grace reaches a child so that they know that their value is found, not from acceptance by others, but by the Creator who fashioned them to do great things. I lament, but I find hope because every day, God’s grace reaches another American who realizes that we are in this together, not just as a nation, but as mankind. I lament, but I find hope because every day, the grace of God reaches a pastor who decides that their task is for the sake of every person on this planet. I lament, but I find hope because every day, God’s grace reaches another person and their heart breaks for their neighbor. I lament, but I find hope because the LORD is my portion, and I will wait for Him.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!