Yesterday morning, during my time with Him, God gave me something that I hope, by His grace, I can adequately share with you all. If you have your Bibles handy, why not grab them and do your devotions with me? :D (However, if your Bible isn’t close by, you can hover your cursor over the Scripture references I have listed, and a tiny window should show up with the Bible verses I’m speaking of there for you!! :D)
My current devotional material had me read Ruth 1:19-22.
“So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them and they said, Is this Naomi?” Ruth 1:19
I got this far and then stopped. :D You see, I am a habitual cross-referencer, so when I got to the phrase, “Is this Naomi?” and there was that tiny reference letter above it, I turned to the two Scriptures that my Bible listed. They were Isaiah 23:7 and Lamentations 2:15. Now, these verses might make little sense or mean very little to others; but during our time of (nearly) nightly family devotions, our family has just struggled through the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and we are now in Lamentations, so I had recent insight as to what was going on and when the prophets were referring to in the Scripture I cross-referenced.
You see, the entire book of Jeremiah is about God’s people, the Jews, rebelling against Him and going after other gods, and the Lord pleading with them to repent and return to Him; He warns them time and time again, through Jeremiah, His prophet, that if they do not abandon their evil ways that He will be forced to punish them. Despite chapter after chapter after chapter of pleading and warning, God’s people continue to rebel, rebuff Jeremiah, and ultimately, God is forced to punish them by allowing them to be taken into captivity. He loves them dearly and wants to bless them, but their behavior is wrong and so God’s plan is to refine them and draw them back to Him through captivity.
Isaiah 23:7 and Lamentations 2:15 are verses containing the raucous laughter of the heathen, or unbelievers, to the children of Israel after they were taken into captivity. They’re basically laughing at the Israelites in their humbled position saying, “Hey! Aren’t you that great nation who supposedly served the True and Mighty God? Well, where is your God now? You’re not so high and mighty any more! Where is all that ‘glory’ you used to take such pride and joy in!? Oh how the mighty have fallen!”
Basically, they’re kicking God’s people while they’re down.
Ever been there, Princess?
But when I read Lamentations 2:15, I could not stop. I read all the way to the end of the chapter, and into the next. Lamentations 2:15-22 pretty much encapsulates the Israelite’s punishment as I mentioned above; but the tone changes somewhat when I got to Lamentations 3:1-19.
And it broke my heart.
Because I've been there
I’m still there
That’s where I am
I’m not so sure I’m being punished for any wrong decisions—perhaps you’re not either.
“He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his had against me all the day…” Lamentations 3:2-3
I am with Jeremiah when he says in verse 8, “Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.”
(I would like to point out that, unlike Israel, the prophet Jeremiah has stayed faithful to his God, and has not sinned, yet he has to be punished along with the rest of them :( That is why it is so unfair!)
I identified with Jeremiah... until he got to verse 21. He is remembering all these terrible things he’s been made, seemingly at the hand of the Lord, to suffer, and he feels hopeless and shut off. But then he says,
“Remembering mine affliction and my misery… My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in my. This I recall to my mind, therefore HAVE I HOPE.” (Lamentations 3:19-21)
Umm… whoa. Affliction and misery I get. Humbling I understand. Depression and discouragement and despair I can identify with. But somehow getting HOPE out of all of the misery and affliction!? Where did that come from!?
If we continue reading, we now come to some of the most familiar and comforting/reassuring of all Scripture. There’s even an extremely common hymn taken directly from this passage that you probably sing all the time.
“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.
He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him; he is filled full with reproach.
For the Lord will not cast off forever:
But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of this mercies.
For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.
To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,
To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,
To subvert a man in his cause, the LORD approveth not.” Lamentations 3:22-36
Did you catch it?
Did you catch where that seemingly elusive hope comes from?!?!
The answer is found in verse 24: “therefore will I hope in Him.”
Our hope is to come from Him.
Even when it feels as though He is against us!!! :(
His compassions fail not" even though it feels as though we are being consumed. (verse 22)
We are to hope in Him
To wait and seek for him
because "the Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him."
As you "hope and quietly wait"; As you "bear the yoke in your youth"; as you sit and suffer alone; please, suffering sister, (or brother!) remember these verses!
"The Lord will not cast off forever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of me...To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not." (Lamentations 3:31-36)
Memorize them. Post them on your mirror. Quote them often to yourself. By God's grace, draw that hope from them-- from God.
I know I need to.
I hope this encourages you today.