Lamentations is one of the saddest, most tragic books in the Bible, graphically describing God’s planned punishment for Israel’s stubborn disobedience. It is filled with prophecies of doom and gloom and Jeremiah’s seemingly unending, dismal outlook for Israel. It is aptly titled, because it is truly the lament of the prophet Jeremiah over Israel’s future.
For many of us, these past 3 years have also been a season of lament. Tragedy after tragedy have come at us like unending waves in a stormy ocean. It seems like we barely have enough time to catch our breath before another wave smacks us and submerges us again. The future looks so dim, with not much hope for recovery. Yes, we fight to survive; yet, as one song goes, despite all our rage, we still feel like a rat in a cage – trapped and unable to break free and make any headway against our situation. Many times, this leads to tunnel vision. All we can see and focus on is our tragic situation, and so we sink further into despair. No wonder many of us are going through severe mental and emotional health issues.
In Chapter 3, from verse 20 onwards, Jeremiah has a shift in focus. This allowed him to look away from the bleak situation and for hope to spark in his heart. There are 3 things we can learn from Jeremiah’s renewed response:
1) Jeremiah remembered and recognized the Lord for who He really is. God was his portion, so he should wait upon him. God remained his only salvation. (vv. 24-26)
2) Jeremiah recognized God’s sovereignty, how He is ultimately in control and involved in all that we are going through – good and bad (vv. 37-38). He found comfort in knowing that the same sovereign God loves us with a perfect love (vv. 31-33). He realized our sufferings in life are not random or pointless. God has a plan and a purpose in them. He allows what happens to us yet sets limits and boundaries for these trying situations. Who better to set the parameters of our experiences than the God who perfectly loves us? Though our suffering may seem infinite from our limited perspective, our loving Heavenly Father sets a definite timeline and an end to them.
3) Jeremiah was reminded that God’s mercies and faithfulness are new every morning. He provides us with the grace we need to face the challenges of our life (vv. 22-23). We often fail to grasp this valuable gift God has for us. Whenever our stress level is at 100%, we will discover that God’s grace for us is also at 100%. We can never use up God’s grace as He tops it up for us daily.
From Jeremiah, we can learn how to find hope in a seemingly hopeless tomorrow so that, like him, we can declare “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (vv.22-23).