There’s this book in the Bible called Lamentations. It’s a book full of lamenting. What does it mean to lament, you might ask? Well, as a noun, lament is a passionate expression grief or sorrow. Lamentations, then, is a collection of such expressions — like a Dashboard Confessional album from the mid-2000s (if you get it, you get it).
Why is there a book in the Bible that’s full of grief-stricken poetry and sorrow-laden verses? Well, probably because grief and sorrow are real. Taking time to lament, declare, proclaim the pain you’re feeling is important, and it’s a lot of what makes up life sometimes. And sometimes that means we’re quite frustrated and angry with God — but He’s not a stranger to these challenges, and gives us opportunity to reflect.
Read this, it’s from Lamentations 3:17-26 HCSB:
“My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is. Then I thought: My future is lost, as well as my hope from the Lord …”
Look at those first words: “My soul has been DEPRIVED of peace. I have FORGOTTEN what happiness is.”
This is true sometimes, isn’t it? We feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, and it can be all too crushing. We experience loss and it cripples us. We have plans and desires stripped away, and the light at the end of the tunnel diminishes.
BUT — we can actually see these circumstances turn around. It’s true! And it’s a choice we are all afforded.
That same chapter continues on to say this:
“Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord.”
The author makes a choice to put his hope in something that’s beyond the grasp of our finite existence. Sure, some may call this a crutch, or an experience for weak-minded individuals, but I’d say we can really use all the help we can get nowadays. We need to lean on the unshakeable HOPE that comes from beyond our worldly circumstances, because what we often hear or read about can leave us feeling hopeless, not hopeful.
Take some time this week to get outside of your routines and structures. Find a quiet place to observe the beauty of the fall in the mountains. Feel the sun touch your face and warm your body, and know that the Creator of all of it has given it as a gift for you to enjoy. Let your hope be renewed.
And if you are full of hope, well, begin to lend that hope out to others. Interest-free. No charge. Because we could all use a little more in our lives.
James McFaddin is the pastor of New Life Church