“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;” (Lamentations 3:31-32)
The words that we read from this week’s Old Testament lesson from Lamentations 3 have given many people, both believers and unbelievers alike great comfort in the mist of pain and suffering. These words are rooted in the experiences of the prophet Jeremiah who, earlier in this chapter, used extremely graphic language to describe his spiritual and emotional horror in response to the fall of Jerusalem as well as his own suffering. He sounds just like us when we experience trauma and endure tribulations and suffering. Although it is beneficial for us to vent such feelings of grief rather than keep them bottled up, it seems a bit unnerving as Jeremiah takes us into the very pit of despair and depression.
For those who do not know the Lord or seek His face in their trials, such despair often leads them to suicide or cynical agnosticism. Jeremiah shows us, however, that for those who do seek the Lord, who speak their minds to Him with such bold intensity, their despair will lead them to hope. The hope of which Jeremiah speaks is portrayed with vivid intensity that comforts those in any kind of suffering, pain or tribulation. It may not change the immediate situation or conditions, but it can be a tremendous boost to faith. That hope is the guarantee that the Lord will have mercy, will supply the strength we need to endure and will restore blessings. That hope is not mere wishful thinking or bravado to keep our spirits up. That hope is firm assurance based on the absolute trustworthiness of God who always keeps His word.