“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Lamentations is a series of complaints to God. Jeremiah wrote these toward the end of his ministry when Babylon had conquered and destroyed Jerusalem. It is mostly a bitter book. It’s tone is both corporate and personal. Chapter three here in particular is very personal. The prophet describes feeling totally abandoned and even actively attacked by the Lord. They are words that ring with familiarity to those who have experienced loss and grief and seasons of great distress today.
Read again the verses preceding these. The prophet cried out that he cannot even remember what happiness is any longer. He is in a place of darkness with no light. His soul knows no peace. His very hope has perished.
Perhaps you have been in a place like this one. It’s not fun. What caused it? Was it the death or the prolonged illness of a loved one? Was it a dramatic experience with the consequences of sin, whether yours or somebody else’s? Was it a moment of personal depression? Was it the loss of a job and a time spent wandering in a valley of financial insecurity and stress? Did you face a season of persecution of some kind? There are perhaps many things that could have been the culprit. Whatever it was, if you know what Jeremiah is talking about, you are part of a club. It is a club with members who share a special bond. It is the bond of suffering and sadness, of darkness and depression. It is a club that is at one and the same time crowded, but also terribly lonely.
What brought you out of this place (if indeed you are out of it yet)? If you are still in it, could you imagine what might lift you up? Look now again at what Jeremiah writes here. In the midst of this awful valley of pain and darkness and suffering and alienation even from God Himself, what does Jeremiah remember? What is the thing that lifts him up out of it? What restores his hope?
The steadfast love of our God. He recalls His unending faithfulness. God’s mercies are new every morning. He never ceases to be our advocate, caring for us and tending to our wounds. We could perhaps sum all of this up by saying that Jeremiah remembered the character of the Lord. God is good and loving and faithful and kind and merciful and generous and patient and just and holy. He is all the things we need Him to be when we need Him to be them. His wrath over sin may be fierce, but it lasts for a moment and is quickly swallowed up by mercy and love.
No matter how deep is the valley we are walking, if we will remember the character of our God, this can call us up out of it and into the life that is waiting for us on the other side. This is not to say it will resolve whatever the problems are immediately, nor will it necessarily change our situation. But it will lead us to hope. And when we have hope, we can endure much. When we remember that the Lord is for us, we can face down any challenge. When we are confident in His steadfast love, no mountain is too high to climb.
Jeremiah’s physical situation did not improve after this. But it didn’t have to. He had hope again. His complaint stretches on for another two and a half chapters and is bitter all the while. But he is no longer in a place of darkness and depression without end like he was before. Set your mind on the steadfast love of the Lord whose mercies are new each day and let this great knowledge lift you up to life once again.