Where Reality Trumps Feelings: Hope and Joy Amidst the Laments

2015-12-15 16.50.36Reading through Lamentations leaves my heart broken.  Jeremiah the prophet (known as the weeping prophet, at that) pens five poems outlining the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem, and also about the desolation of his heart.  Even though God repeatedly prophecied this destruction due to the disobedience and arrogance of the people of God, the pain still stung.  God’s enemies rejoiced, God’s people were stunned, God’s prophet was numbed.

And yet, almost perfectly centered in this is this beautiful note of hope and joy, just verses after he spoke of how “his soul is bereft of peace” and how he had “forgotten what happiness is” (3:17), he can say this:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

This man saw affliction (3:1), found himself in darkness (3:2), and felt that God’s hand was perpetually against him (3:3).  I could go on, but I found it amazing that Jeremiah spoke so many things about how God afflicted him (“he drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver”?–3:13), he could still pen these glorious words.  And know I use the word ‘glorious’ intentionally: he speaks of the glory of God in his love, mercy, faithfulness, and hope.

How?  I wrote in the margin of my Bible: “reality trumps feelings.”  Whether we are handling hard issues while pastoring a church, dealing with issues at home, struggling at work with an ungodly boss or co-workers, our souls and our flesh come to conclusions that Christ has afflicted and abandoned us.

While Christ may send afflictions (2 Corinthians 12:1-10), He has promised never to abandon us (Hebrews 13:5b).  So we take a lesson from Jeremiah the prophet and intentionally “call to mind” this very thing that gives us hope:  

  • God’s love never fails;
  • His mercies never end, but are new every morning;
  • His faithfulness is great.
  • He is our portion.
  • As a result, in Him will I hope.

Hope and joy exists amidst the lamentations!  Call this to mind whenever possible.

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