Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get a grip on Hope

I have so many favorite Bible passages. But I come back to Lamentations 3: 19-30 repeatedly. I'm especially fond of the way Peterson paraphrases it in The Message:

19-21 I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

22-24 God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.

25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times.

28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.

We may experience different problems, but one thing is for certain, we all have experienced troubles of one kind or another. Some of my toughest troubles have been going through the devastation that schizophrenis brings with my sister, the failure of marriage and shame of divorce, and loss of a career. When I've gone through these and other hard situations, these words have pointed me in the right direction. I think to say more would be rudundant - the verses say it all, and so eloquently!

Besides troublesome situations, I've been troublesome at times. I've failed. I've just plain sinned on purpose. I'm extremely partial to the KJV of verse 22 from above:

It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

I know in the depths of my heart that what I deserve would have been to be consumed, to be destroyed, yet God chooses again and again to extend forgiveness to me as I come to Him. Heck, He even keeps after me until I do come to Him.

What about you, is there anything from these verses in Lamentations that grab you?


Mike said...

This is another one that I memorized in 2010 (verses 19-33). The verse that sticks out to me is, "It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

Probably because I can be a big mouth. It reminds me of Paul's letter to the Thessalonian's in which he tells them to live "quietly" and "peaceably" with those who are outsiders. It reminds me of James' words that we should "be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." It reminds me that we should each "work out our salvation with fear and trembling."

God's great grace is a wonderful thing. I need to spend more time pondering that wonder!

David said...

I am grabbed by the Lord's mercy. It is an amazing reveltion for me - greater than love. As a parent I struggle with my kids - oh to have the wsidom of God.

Joyce said...

As someone who has had the experience of really losing hope - once I got it back, I realized that nothing is quite so necessary or powerful as hope. When God laid on my heart to start a ministry (which is still being defined), the Holy Spirit impressed this verse from Romans 8: 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
From that The Age of Hope Ministries was born - I remember mentioning hope to someone and they sort of sneered - they thought of hope as wishing - it is more than that - perhaps you only know that when you've lost it and found it again.
EXCELLENT blog - thanks Tracy for reminding me to keep going in hope that is unseen.

Tony C said...

Great post Tracy!

'Don't run from trouble.' I've mentioned before in a comment that the Full Armour of God mentioned in Ephesians 6:11 doesn't provide for anything to protect our backs. Further evidence that God wants us to face trials and temptations with the tools He provides us.

Tracy said...

Mike - I frequently talk too much and don't listen enough. So I'm often having to remember that passage that you quote from James as I seek to have God control my mouth.

David - God's mercy grabs me too. I just can't get over it. May we be people who extend that mercy to others.

Joyce - "Age of Hope Ministries", really like that. Yes I've been one who has lost hope during a time in my life, and have known many who feel I'm with you in knowing how great a gift from God our hope is.

Tony - yeah that verse grabbed me too because running is the first thing that comes to my mind when I see trouble. God's ways are truly not our ways. I'm so grateful for the great God we serve!