A Grip on Hope

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It seems that every time I talk to a friend, receive an e-mail, prayer request or see the news there is another new story of death, despair and heartache. It’s overwhelming.  In fact, when I think about friends facing the terminal illness of a child, a loved one going to jail or the financial pressures and job loss this economy has brought on so many I wonder how they bear it.

So when I read Lamentations 3 (The Message Translation) this week it seemed fitting for so many around me. The first three verses hit hard.

I’m the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God’s anger. He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. Yes, he’s given me the back of his hand over and over and over again. Lamentations 3:1-3

It doesn’t stop there. Jeremiah continues and says, Even when I cry out and plead for help, he locks up my prayers and throws away the key (v.8), He’s a prowling bear tracking me down, a lion in hiding ready to pounce, He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces. When he finished, there was nothing left of me (v.10-11) and finally he says, “He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud. I gave up on life altogether. I’ve forgotten what the good life is like. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished. God is a lost cause.” (v. 16-18).

Have you ever felt like crying out to the Lord with some of these same thoughts or feelings? Ever felt like you finally got your footing, just crawled (or clawed) up from your knees and took a breath just to be knocked down by another blow? I have been there and if you have too – you are not alone. So what’s the good news?

Jeremiah continues . . . . please read this slowly and soak in every word.  Even in the darkness . . . .

 19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

 28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The “worst” is never the worst.

 31-33Why? Because the Master won’t ever
   walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
   His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
   in throwing roadblocks in the way:

There are some amazing truths in these verses: keep a grip on hope, God’s love and mercy never runs out, His mercies are new every morning, pray, wait for hope and the Master never leaves our side. What other truths and characteristics of God stood out to you? I encourage you to read Lamentations 3 in its entirety and pray God reveals something new to your heart and soothes your soul with the healing balm of His word.

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