In my Old Testament class last week, we were looking at the book of Lamentations and as I slowly read through the entire book and saw the way it was structured, the middle part became so much more meaningful to me in light of what the author was feeling and experiencing. The depth of grief experienced brought new depth to the hope found in God.
The entire book consists of five poems (each chapter) and they are acrostics, all 22 verses, except for chapter 3, which has 66 verses. They include the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and emphasize the author's purpose in lamenting from A to Z and covering everything that was being experienced.
Judah had just experienced great loss and they were at a place of complete desolation and grief. I have no idea the depth of what they experienced, but the author's grief and lament resonated deeply with me.
Most of the book is a lament, and yet right in the middle, there is this brilliant proclamation that starts with the word "but"... despite all of the things that have happened, there is reason for hope. While the future may be unclear and dismal, there is hope in the present, in today. The author proclaims it to the reader, but also turns to God, declaring "Great is Your faithfulness".
"But this I recall to my my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in Him."
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him.
Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope.
Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach.
For the Lord will not reject forever,
For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness."
As I read, I was deeply encouraged that the core of this book is hope. Not a hope that brushes off the pain or emotions that are being experienced, but rather a hope that enters into those dark places and abides there in the midst of the pain and grief. These verses are surrounded by a deep lament and yet despite not feeling this way, the writer claims these truths about who God is and ultimately, God's lovingkindness and faithfulness win.
With the future unknown in this place of waiting and when I can't make sense of things, I will cling to the truth that God is faithful. Even when I don't feel it or understand how that applies to my current circumstance, I will claim it and allow it to permeate hope and life into every area of my life. This afternoon, I sat in the hot tub, marveling at the mountains and the eagles, singing loudly "Great is thy faithfulness." Even without the answers, this truth resonated a hope deep within that I will continue to cling to daily.