Choosing Hope

 

redbuds rain (1)

By Renee Meyer

Many of my favorite promises are rooted in a particular struggle or season of life: I remember exactly when I found them and why they were meaningful in that moment.

But I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Lamentations 3:22-23. I’m sure there had to be a time I didn’t know it– I wasn’t raised going to church, the Bible didn’t enter my life until I was 19–but I can’t recall an introduction to this promise. It feels like it has always been part of my story.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

As a new believer in college and young adulthood, sorting through the baggage of my childhood and the lies I’d believed, I clung to the promise that God’s steadfast love never ends.

As a single woman in ministry, wanting so badly to honor Jesus, serve Him and love His people well even in full view of my own sin, struggle, and imperfection, I praised God that every morning we wake up to a fresh supply of His mercy.

Through marriage, motherhood, and adoption, I’ve spent years clinging to the greatness of God’s faithfulness.

And as I woke up to the hard realities of life in a fallen world, grief, struggle and brokenness in my own life, poverty and heartache around the world, I’ve fallen in love with the context around this promise.

Lamentations is a lament, a book of grief and sadness, written by Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet – in Lamentations he leads his nation in mourning the destruction of Jerusalem, along with the people’s humiliation and enslavement more than 600 years before Christ.

Jeremiah had reason to weep.

How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave…. (Lamentations 1:1)

How the Lord in his anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud! He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. (Lamentations 2:1)

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. (Lamentations 3:1)

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard a sermon on the book of Lamentations. It’s a downer, one depressing verse after another, for 5 chapters.

And right in the middle of this downer we find the promise of God’s new mercies every day.

Jeremiah is one of my heroes. His response to personal and national destruction, real reasons for depression and hopelessness, is not to give up or run away, to deny pain or paint it into a prettier picture. He writes down the destruction. He is honest about the pain.

But he doesn’t stop there.

I remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.

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.”

When Jeremiah talks about the steadfast love of the Lord, his is not an easy belief, a faith based on his circumstances. When Jeremiah praises God for His mercy, it is a CHOICE.

Jeremiah doesn’t gloss over his hard circumstances, but he still chooses hope.

This I call to mind, therefore I have hope…

My family is in the midst of a hard season, one of the hardest I’ve experienced. I don’t know how long we’ll be in this place of hurt and insecurity. I’m angry, I’m confused, and I’m strongly tempted to bitterness, unforgiveness, sometimes despair.

And I work among families who make my hard season look like a vacation. I have a front row seat to see the effects of generational poverty, violence, addiction, institutional racism, hunger, fear. So many dear ones think God has turned His back on them, could never love them.

It’s enough to cause my soul to “bow down within me.”

But I hear Jeremiah calling us across the centuries, from a lifetime of hard seasons, from a nation whose circumstances communicated God’s actual rejection.

Jeremiah calls me to be honest about what hurts and what’s hard. He teaches me that God isn’t afraid of my tears, my complaints, or my doubts.

And He reminds me that I have a choice what I call to mind. I can focus on despair and stay in my complaints, or I can choose hope.

Every morning, I can choose hope.

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.”

I think I’ll do that. How about you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s