His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:23-24
1 I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD’s anger.
2 He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light.
3 He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
12 He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He shot his arrows deep into my heart.
14 My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs.
15 He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.
16 He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust.
17 Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!”
19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Watching or listening to the news found on traditional television stations and streaming media is like experiencing some kind of Orwellian nightmare most every day. But most of us have come to accept this as the norm for 21st century life. But ask yourself the question is this what you are willing to settle for? If the Lord does not return quickly, is this the kind of world you want your children and their families to grow up in?
“When we choose hope, we define what matters most to us.” “The tiny ripple of hope you set in motion can change the path of someone’s life” (Dr Shane Lopez, Gallup’s Senior Scientist in Residence).
But what is hope? Biblical hope is far different than the hope of this world. Worldly hope is no more than wishful thinking, desiring the best outcome.
“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon; Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty face Lighting a little Hour or two – is gone” (The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam).
The Father has provided something far greater than worldly hope. Biblical hope is the confident expectation that whatever the Father has promised will certainly come to pass. “The Christian hope never proves an illusion, for it is founded on the love of God. When our hope is in God, it cannot turn to dust and ashes. When our hope is in God, it cannot be disappointed. When our hope is in the love of God, it can never be an illusion, for God loves us with an everlasting love backed by an everlasting power” (Barclay).
The Father is actively at work developing Biblical hope within the heart of each of His children. The Greek word translated hope is elpis. Elpis is a reasonable and confident expectation, anticipation regarding the future. Biblical hope will not be disappointed.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father’s faithfulness is the basis for hope.
Father I have known the dark night of the soul. Thank You that You have a future and a hope for me.
It was the worst of times; it was the darkest hour in the history of Israel. Israel has been invaded and conquered. The walls of Jerusalem flattened, the temple of God ransacked and all of its valuables carried off. And the people of Israel had been taken captive. They were literally like fish strung up by the Babylonians on their hooks and caught in their nets hauled off to Babylon (Habakkuk 1:15, 16). A very small number of survivors, the stragglers left behind now live in the debris of better times.
It was the greatest disappointment and disillusionment that the people had ever faced. Jeremiah had been the Father’s weeping prophet of doom and of the judgment at hand. Now Jeremiah has become the tear stained voice of their depression and dismay. He is the oracle of the dark night of Israel’s soul. Their fate lies in the hands of their evil tormentors. For all practical purposes, God was dead!
How many of us experience serious trauma and disappointment in our life? Surely, we can identify. Too often our first response was doubt and unbelief. We find ourselves questioning God, asking why? When no response is forthcoming, things go from bad to worse. How often have we thought that, for all practical purposes God was dead?
“From cover to cover, the Bible proclaims, ‘God is there, and He cares!’ He never abandons us” (Stanley).
I can picture it now, Jeremiah dragging himself through the ruins weeping as he goes. How much it hurt his heart to have to proclaim the message of judgment and destruction. How much more does it hurt his heart to see the consequence of the judgment of his beloved people. Oh the despair!
Yet in the midst of it all, Jeremiah exclaims a beautiful affirmation of hope.
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Jeremiah remembered that the Father’s steadfast, loyal love (in Hebrew, hesed) never ceases. His mercies never fail. His compassion lasts forever. The dawn of every new day demonstrates the Father’s great faithfulness.
Jeremiah gets down to the foundation of his faith. “The LORD is my portion.” The Hebrew word translated portion is cheleq. Cheleq can be translated inheritance or possession. It is hard to get our arms around Jeremiah’s meaning. He is not saying that the Father is in his possession, that somehow Jeremiah “owns” Him. But rather, it has the sense and may be rendered, “I trust God and I need nothing more,” “God is everything; I need nothing else,” or “I need nothing because God is with me” (USB). The hymn by Ralph Carmichael captures it well, “He is everything to me.” When the Father is everything, all else pales away into insignificance.
Israel’s dark night was only temporary. The Father explains what He had in mind all along and makes a promise. The Father always keeps His promises.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.
13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
14 I will be found by you, says the LORD. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.
And so it is with each child of the King. For each of us He says, “I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”