“My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Lamentations 3:18
If there’s anyone who had a right to despair, it was Jeremiah. Although God gave him a vocation — “Before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” — the assignment proved exceedingly bleak (Jeremiah 1:5).
Years later he bursts out, describing his feelings about his life. “God, himself,” he says, ”has made me walk in darkness rather than light. He’s walled me in so I cannot escape. Weighed me down with chains. Made me the target of his arrows. Trampled me in the dust. Deprived me of peace” (Lamentations 3:2, 7, 12,16-17).
Why did people insult him and plot against him? Why was he literally thrown into the pit of a dry well?
Fact is, God also promised him trouble with no route around it: “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:19).
With utter honesty Jeremiah recalls the opposition, and time after time God did not extend immediate rescue. “I remember my affliction . . . My soul is downcast within me” (Lamentations 3:19-20).
Yet his memory works two ways: “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,” (Lamentations 3:21-22).
Spiritually, the movement towards hope may start with lament. Grief for our losses is healthy. It is also healthy to locate, through memory, the ways God has shown us kindness. Perhaps, Jeremiah remembered the continuing strength he had to obey and deliver God’s message no matter what the outcome would be. He knew that God had rescued him in His own way and timing.
As you review your life’s turbulence, what powers of recall will you exercise? Look back (even at today) for the good moments, inner graces, or outward kindnesses that have come your way. Dwell on these and thank God for them.
Father, help me recall Your presence, spell out Your goodness, and trust Your larger purposes when I can’t imagine what good will come from the adversity You allow in my life. Amen.
Most of the time, God does not ask you to hold on to hope all by yourself. Don’t isolate. Get together with other Christ-followers regularly, encouraging one another to hold on to our hope as it says in Hebrews 10:19-25.