I listened as Roger spoke from the Bible book of Lamentations about the man Jeremiah’s heartbreak. What a sad commentary on the collapse of a culture. It also intrigued me that the Hebrew name for this book was simply “How”. It made sense. Yes, Jeremiah walked the streets of Jerusalem, the city he loved, and “lamented”, grieved terribly and at times wept uncontrollably over its condition. At every turn, all he could see was destruction, devastation, and despair. And it didn’t have to be this way. It could have been strong, beautiful, thriving...if only.
How lonely the city that was full of people, she that was great among the nations...begins the first chapter; how the pristine palaces are now in ruins, the women now crying out in the streets for their children faint with hunger as prosperity fades to poverty; how the gold has dimmed, continues chapter 4, as the glory of the great center of abundance and ease is now a disgrace. “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”
I couldn’t help but consider the plight of many nations today, the horror that many are living on a daily basis-- inhumane cruelties, poverty and sickness, raids and bombings, child labor, sex trafficking, the economic collapse of whole countries. And I can’t help but consider the evils of my own society that seem to be growing more commonplace by the day. In my own community, drug-ridden streets and drug infested schools, children disgustingly abused and abandoned, people jobless, homeless, and almost daily reports of stabbings, beatings, shootings, and murder, as violence competes with sanity as the only option for solving conflict. So much anger, hatred, hopelessness. The moral decay is despairing at times as cheating and stealing, deception and dishonesty take a back seat to integrity. There is no shame as the sexual appetite seeks to be satisfied in every kind of relationship imaginable. It’s reflected in the statistics of those millions searching the internet daily for porn, the abortion of unknown millions, the ravaging of sexually transmitted diseases. If my grandmother were alive she would say, “The whole world has gone to hell in a handbasket!”
How did we get here? How did this happen? To offer Truth to those seeking answers nearly cost Jeremiah his life. To shut him up, he was thrown in a deep, wet pit and left to die. Even in their despicable condition, an over-riding sense of pride and self-will kept most from hearing his message or accepting any responsibility for their situation. It was too easy to cast blame. It was too easy to feel entitled, undeserving. But God made it clear with His Word through Jeremiah, “Jerusalem has grievously sinned...the Lord has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions.” Can it really be that simple?
Yes, they were being held accountable for their sin and their relationship with the God that created them. And so are we.
If there is one thing I want my children and grandchildren to have is hope. I want my extended family, my friends to have hope. I want that child that I see flash across my facebook feed that needs a loving family to have hope. I want that teen that has fled a wretched, confused homelife to have hope. I want that elderly gentleman on the bench in the park, alone, to have hope. I want that family I attend church with that’s struggling to keep it together to have hope. I want the single mom, the exploited dehumanized woman, to have hope. I want the man that just wants a job to take care of his family, to have hope! Yes things are bad. Yes times are turbulent. Yes people are hurting, and there are hateful and hurtful people in this world, downright evil. And if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself focusing on the division and the hate and the wrong, and the despairing...instead of the love of Christ and the hope He provides.
It was almost too much for Jeremiah. Almost.
“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’….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.”
Keep looking around and it all may be too much. It’s dark, it’s negative, it’s depressing. And a hope in humanity is a fleeting and false hope. Choose instead to look to God and dare to hope. Christ offers real and lasting hope; it can be yours. Choose to see the goodness of God as it evidences itself in the kindnesses, the courage and sacrifice of many. Cheer and promote honesty and truth, goodwill and good works! Champion love and right! Be light in darkness! Choose to be a messenger of hope. Remind yourself often, God’s love never fails. Every day is a new chance to start over fresh as His mercies wash over you. His faithfulness is great, so His Words are binding and true! With Him there is hope.
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts and
Hands to God in heaven. Lamentations 3:41
Does someone you know need a message of hope?