The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” – Lam. 3:22-23
Happy New Year! We made it through another year and are ready to start on the adventures that 2017 will bring!
I know that I am not the only one who is excited to start a new year. All down my Facebook newsfeed were those who were so tired and fed-up with 2016 that they could only hope that 2017 would be better!
I understand. It was a year that we saw some of the worst of humanity. Politics divided our country, ending long-time friendships, creating familial rifts, and wreaking havoc on communities nationwide. Well-known and well-loved celebrities proved to us once again that none of us is invincible and will eventually end our time here on earth. Many people suffered the loss of those closest to them, were given diagnoses of illness, or struggled under the strain of financial burdens.
New Year’s Eve is all about looking back over the past year, recounting our blessings and failures and looking forward to a year of new beginnings, a fresh start! While 2016 was not personally a horrible year for me, my heart hurt for friends and family who struggled through surgeries, cancer diagnoses, the inability to pay their bills, and even the murder of a childhood friend. It was a difficult year!
When most people look at Lamentations 3, they are quick to quote verses 22 and 23, which are sung in the well-loved hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” But to me, Lamentations looks like New Year’s Eve.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope: – Lam. 3:19-21
The first part of Lamentations seems like the weary cry that many people were proclaiming as part of their 2016. He speaks of affliction, being “driven into darkness without any light” (v. 1-2). Can you relate? Are you feeling the darkness encompassing you, driving out any light?
He speaks of his flesh and skin wasting away (v. 4) and dwelling in the resulting bitterness. Have you been diagnosed with an illness, suffered through migraines, mourned as a loved one battled for their life? Do you know the bitterness he was feeling?
He even speaks of crying out for help and feeling as though his prayers are hitting against stone walls (v. 7-9). Do you feel as though God has stopped listening to you? Do you think He doesn’t care any more?
Finally, it seems that the prophet has had enough of this horrible existence and cries out, “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness[a] is; 18 so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord’” (v. 17-18)!
Stop for a moment and soak in this verse. If you are in the midst of your own storm, be comforted that you are not alone! Even a prophet of the Lord cried out in the midst of hardship and felt as though his hope was gone!
I have been there. A few years ago, I cried out those very words – “I have forgotten what happiness is!” I had a new baby, who had to spend a few extra days in the hospital; I was struggling with post-adoptive depression; I couldn’t sleep; I had numerous sinus and ear infections; my dad had quadruple bypass surgery and almost died; and my marriage was beginning to fall apart. Christmas held no joy for me that year, and New Year’s Eve did not feel like a celebration.
If Lamentations ended at verse 18, I think we should all throw in the towel and forget the promises that 2017 holds! There would be no need for New Year’s resolutions. There would be nothing to look forward to.
But God doesn’t leave us without hope. He doesn’t leave us without His promises.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[b]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. – Lam. 3:21-23
Even in the midst of your storm, when you have lost happiness, when you have no hope left within you, the Lord is still true to His Word. Breathe in these verses! Meditate on them! Hold onto them when you have nothing else to hold onto!
His love is steadfast!
His love never ceases!
His mercies never end!
His mercies are new every morning!
His faithfulness is great!
I am confident that I could never gotten through that dark season in my life if these things were not true about my God! Today, I have a happy and healthy three-year-old; my health is much better; my dad is much stronger than he was then; and my marriage is happier and stronger.
But even if none of those things were true, even if my life had taken a turn that I didn’t want or expect, my God is still the same. He is still the One who holds my future in His hand!
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him – Lam 3:24-25.
You know, the rest of this chapter in Lamentations should show us that there truly is “nothing new under the sun”!
We are pursued by our enemies. We are crushed and shaken. We panic and fall in our sins. We are gossiped about. We are misunderstood. And in turn, we participate in the gossip, and we do our own fair share of misunderstanding.
And if we look at ourselves and hope to accomplish New Year’s resolutions by our own ability, we will soon be wallowing in our failures, overwhelmed by our ineptness, and devastated by our inadequacies.
But God is still good! His mercies are still new EVERY MORNING!
So as you look optimistically towards good things coming in 2017, I pray that you will first seek the Lord and remember the many blessings He has given to you. Remember, even in the midst of the storm, that this world is not our home, and these storms of life are just a “vapor that quickly passes away.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men. – Lam. 3:25-33
BLESSINGS FOR 2017!