June 17, 2015

Today you should read: Lamentations 3

Where To Find Hope…

Sorrow and Brokenness. That is what is involved here. This book is written under the shadow of the destruction of Jerusalem.

But we don’t need to only see this as an account of a nation in despair, we can think about how this book represents the despair of individuals. We can also relate to this hopelessness, ourselves, personally. In times of despair, when God doesn’t feel near, when we feel so overwhelmed with our inadequacies and failures, when we are afraid, or when we just don’t think our situation will ever change, we can turn somewhere to find true hope.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

In our chapter today, verses 1-20 represent despair. Hopelessness. It is a recounting of how the Lord has brought His people to nothing… on purpose. I believe the climax is found in verses 17-18. It represents the entire section, in just one sentence. The ESV says it this way, “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.’” There is a clear sense of hopelessness here.

But something happens in verse 21 that changes everything. The writer remembers. He calls truth to mind. And it is the very place he finds hope. After all the despair that is shared in verses 1-20, read what how he starts in verses 21-24;,

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

I don’t know about you, but watching this progression brings deep satisfaction to my soul. It’s like he is saying, “I am beyond despair! I am anxious, afraid, depressed, doubtful, and tired! God seems far away! BUT, this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. (sigh of relief) God is faithful. His mercies are new every morning. He will fill me up. I will hope in Him.”

Wow. Let this section speak to your soul.

Are you tired? Are you afraid? Have you made some embarrassing mistakes? Have you been sorrowful and doubtful?

Well, call this to mind, and therefore… find hope…

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

June 16, 2015

Today you should read: Lamentations 2

​When you have grieved over sin, whether it was yours or the brokenness we see from the world, what was your conversations with God like? We know we should lament and grieve over sin because its consequences are deadly and that sin ultimately cost Jesus’ life. However do you truly grieve over it? Sometimes I’ll see students recognize sin in their life or in the world and they dismiss it pretty quickly and easily. We need to view sin the same way that God does and when we repent of it, we need to be honest and transparent to God of our hatred toward it. Lamentations chapter 2 shows a picture of that grief in the author’s heart when reflecting on Israel’s sin and God’s judgment on that sin.
The first 10 verses show the effect of God’s justice as He allowed Israel to be attacked and captured by Babylon. Vs. 11-19 shows the grief that they feel but also we see the author cry out for help from God in the midst of his lamenting.
18 Their heart cried to the Lord.
O wall of the daughter of Zion,
let tears stream down like a torrent
day and night!
Give yourself no rest,
your eyes no respite!
19 “Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the night watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.” –Lamentations 2:18-19

That’s the difference between guilt and depression over one’s sin and true repentance. God will be just and his righteous anger will pour out over sin. It poured out on His innocent Son on the cross. However the purpose behind that lamentation of sin is to bring us to a point to respond with hope that we can be saved by all loving Father through the Gospel. Do you grieve over your sin? Does that cause you to desire God’s restoration? Even in the most depressing book of the Bible, we see glimmers of hope as the prophet point them to a God who will restore them.

Posted by: Erik Koliser

June 15, 2015

Today you should read: Lamentations 1

​Today we begin our journey through the book of Lamentations. As the title of the book communicates, Lamentations is not the cheeriest of books. But before you run and grab the Kleenex, it’s important to note that even though there is much sadness and “lamenting” throughout the book, there is still hope to be found. The book of Lamentations is a very practical book because it represents a spectrum of life that all of us have been impacted by in one way or another.
​In the beginning of chapter 1 we see that Jerusalem has been destroyed by the Babylonians. The city of the people of God has been devastated. Imagine being a person in this city, one of God’s “chosen” people. Imagine being a witness to what looks like is a reversal of the promises God has spoken upon Israel. I’m sure there are numerous of you who have felt this at one point or another in your lives. Whether it is after the death of a child, a cancer prognosis, or any other of the numerous plagues that we face in this world, many of us have looked at our struggles and wondered where God and His goodness is.
​In verse 18 we see that the reason they are going through this time of suffering is because of their sin. We have to be careful here, because if we attempt to apply this Old Testament truth to us, we could see every moment of suffering that we experience as a result of God punishing our sin. This is not true in light of what Jesus has done for us! (see John 9:1-3 for more perspective) The suffering that we face can sometimes be the result of sin (a stupid decision that is sinful or unwise) but a majority of the time we suffer because we live in a fallen, sinful world.
​As you journey with us through this book, you will see that the theme of suffering is prevalent. But what this book should teach us is that even in the midst of suffering, we have hope. Lamentations 3:19-23 says: “Remember my affliction and my wanderings… My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The reason that the writer of Lamentations had hope is that he was looking forward to what we currently have: a savior. Jesus is the reason that we have hope in any situation. We have hope because he himself has suffered in our place. Allow Him to be your hope in a world that so often feels hopeless.

Reflect:
What would it take to shift our thinking of suffering from hopeless to hopeful? What ways have you seen God at work in hopeless situations in your life?

Posted by: Graham Withers, Pastoral Ministry Apprentice