Far too frequently we look around our lives and find so much going so wrong. Sometimes we know what we can do about our problems, and sometimes we don’t. But that’s where faith comes in. Here’s what I mean:
The sixth century before Christ was a time of tremendous pain for the Israelites. The Temple had been destroyed, the nation ceased to exist, and religious ritual had gone to ruin. The people were sad and worried and had little hope for the world itself. This is how Jeremiah wrote about it in the Book of Lamentations.
My soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘Gone is my glory, and my expectation from the Lord.’ Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. (Lamentations 3:17-20).
Notice what is happening in this verse. Jeremiah is explaining how horrible he and his people feel. He is remembering every affliction they have suffered and is so disturbed by them that he is doubled-over with pain and discontent. Jeremiah even questions what kinds of expectations he places on the Lord!
But why is this important? Jeremiah is demonstrating for us that sadness, anger, despair – lament, if you will – is natural. Life can be very, very difficult because of the seen and unseen forces around us that are determined to break us, especially if we believe in Christ and His Church. It is also important because of what he writes next.
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 thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:21-26).
Regardless of the difficulties found in the world at the hands of men, Jeremiah tells the Israelites – and us – to find hope in the Lord. He lists the steadfast love, mercy, and the faithfulness of God as reasons to believe that, in the end, all will be well in the kingdom of God. But the key here is that we must wait for the Lord to show us the path to get through the difficult times. He also encourages us to go through these pains quietly. In other words, bow down your head and ask for God to make everything right through His will. That’s all we have.
In our world today, when all can seem lost, let us remember to go to God in prayer and He will show us the way through. Just like Jeremiah did for his people, we are encouraged to re-focus our lives on God because the Lord will never completely abandon us, despite our sins. Like the ancient readers of Jeremiah, we are called to renew our prayer life, bolster our faith and trust that all things will pass.
So, during this Year of Faith, ask yourself this: am I capable of seeing God in the midst of my darkest hours? Am I capable of reaching out to Him even when all seems to be lost?
Let us pray for another that we may live our lives with this kind of faith.