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.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26 (NIV)
The book of Lamentations can be uncomfortable reading and might lead us to presume that despair is its central theme. It records the situation after the fall of Jerusalem in 586BC, when the people were taken into exile in Babylon. Lamentations does contains much despair and tears, as it honestly faces up to the people’s situation in exile.
However, after persisting through chapters 1 and 2, we find the real theme of Lamentations in 3:21-26. This short passage affirms that God’s mercy and faithfulness are central to a restored relationship with him. Lamentations recognises that Jerusalem and its people were correctly judged by God. There is no hint in Lamentations of self-pity, but there is recognition of guilt and that God’s judgement is deserved. The book doesn’t centre on despair, or even on guilt. It focuses on hope.
This hope is not ill-placed, because it is based on who God is. The truth of God’s character would have been something that the Jews would have understood from early childhood, as they were told about the many events in the history of the Jews where God’s character was made known. The following passage from Exodus is one of many that attest to who God is –
… he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7).
Do you find yourself in a situation where all seems lost? On what are you placing your hope?
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