Each month, we’re going to reflect on what we’ve been reading in the Know His Word reading plan. We’ll call this Reading His Word. You’ll hear excerpts from Bible studies and reflections from our team and others reading alongside us. This month we’re sharing some reflections on Lamentations.
It doesn’t take a lot of searching these days to find lament. Rightly so, because we hear constantly of God’s image bearers being mistreated, killed, wounded, and abused. We lament.
This month, as we’re reading through God’s Word, we read excerpts from the major prophets. These prophets were often tasked with speaking doom and gloom over God’s people. They were charged to challenge His people to repent and to turn back to the one true God. It is believed that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations. The “weeping prophet” wrote a book full of woe during one of the darkest times in Jewish history, during the overthrow of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
As we read snippets of the messages God called His prophets to speak over His people, we also read Lamentations 3. Scholars believe this chapter is the central chapter of the lament. It begins darkly.
I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath.
He has driven me away and forced me to walk
in darkness instead of light.
Yes, he repeatedly turns his hand
against me all day long.
Reading through the first 18 verses makes it clear this chapter is a lament. Jeremiah suffered personally, and Israel suffered as a nation. He wept over personal ache and the heartbreak of being a part of a broken, hurting community. Perhaps you can identify. As a community of believers we are called to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15b), mourning what brings sorrow and pain to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We also, maybe more obviously at times, mourn the pain in our own lives. Lament is both communal and personal.
Verses 1-20 in Lamentations 3 are some of the most heart-wrenching verses—the CSB Study Bible says the author of these laments expresses the extremes of pain and suffering as few other authors have done in history. In verse 17, Jeremiah states, “I have been deprived of peace” and in verses 19-20 he says, “Remember my affliction and my homelessness, the wormwood and the poison. I continually remember them and have become depressed.”
But in one of the most beautiful expressions of hope found in the Bible, Jeremiah says:
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!
That yet gives me chills. In the midst of pain both personal and corporate, in the midst of peacelessness and turmoil, in the midst of depression, Jeremiah says, “Yet.” And he repeats the promises of God.
Our God is faithful and loving. He is merciful again and again and again. The next verses remind us that God is good to those who wait for Him, that He provides salvation and discipline, that He shows compassion abundantly. Verse 33 tells us God does not enjoy the suffering of His people and He does not approve of injustice. He hears when we call on Him and comes to us. He champions our causes and redeems us.
“Therefore I will put my hope in him” (v. 24b).
We can put our hope in the One who is all of those things. We can have hope in the midst of the darkness because our God is faithful and loving and compassionate. Our God redeems.
Whenever we enter into a season or a moment of lament, we can remember our hope. We righteously weep as individuals and as a community over things our Father does not approve. But even in the dark, even when we cannot find peace, we can say, “Yet.”
In my own life, whenever I’m going through a season of lament—be it personal or with my brothers and sisters in Christ—I have tried to make a practice of remembering the “yet.” I fail at this much of the time. It’s difficult to remember the light when we’re surrounded by darkness. But I have tried to always turn back to the One in whom I can place my hope. I try to make a practice of saying, “Yet this I call to mind” and naming as many of God’s characteristics as I can. He is loving; He is good; He is sovereign; He is wise; He loves me.
Remembering the yet doesn’t make my pain go away, but it helps me focus on what is sure, the mercies that will come new in the morning, and the hope that can be found in Him.
As we read the latest headlines and texts from loved ones, as we hear stories of the crushing pain all around us, let’s remember the yet. Therefore, we have hope.
Elizabeth Hyndman is a content editor and social media strategist for Lifeway Women.