Now, I would guess if you cleared some time in your busy schedule this morning to spend a few minutes with your Creator, you did not go searching for encouragement from the book of Lamentations. The name alone is a little depressing. Lamentations means “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.” As a girl who does NOT enjoy “a good cry” or even understand the meaning of “a good cry,” I do my best to avoid all things sad, depressing, or unfortunate.
However, let me encourage you to see past the title and into the beauty of this book. It is so much more than mourning and sadness. It is a book of hope! When the prophet Jeremiah poured out his heart in this book, the people of Judah had just been taken into Babylonian captivity. Here is a picture of Jeremiah’s emotional and spiritual state as he wrote this book:
“My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the Lord.’” Lamentations 3:17-18
Pretty dismal isn’t it? Well, the first time I really read Laminations was a pretty dismal time in my life. I had just received a phone call that ended a relationship I had placed a lot of my hope in. As the Lord led me to Lamentations that night, I cried right along side Jeremiah. At first I cried tears of sadness, mourning the loss of the hope I had in that relationship. However, as I kept reading, my tears of mourning turned to tears of hope, not hope in that relationship, but hope in the truth of who my God is even in the midst of hardship.
This I recall to 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. Lamentations 3:21-25
In the middle of Jeremiah’s mourning over sin and bondage, he recalled to his mind (he set his mind on) the truth of who God is. He even praised God for His lovingkindness, compassion, and sufficiency. The word “hope” he uses in these verses means “to wait; to be patient, stay, tarry, trust, wait.¹” God’s people were going to spend a total of 70 years in captivity. Seventy years…talk about waiting. Hoping in the Lord often means waiting with expectation. In our times of mourning we are called to:
- Set our minds on the Lord alone
- Praise God for who He is and what He’s promised
- Wait with expectation for God to fulfill His promises
Maybe you feel like you’ve been in mourning for 70 years or you have 70 years of hardship ahead of you. Let me encourage you to try something crazy and read through Laminations this week. I pray you will see great hope in the midst of mourning, so, that like Jeremiah, you may learn wait on God with great expectation.
¹James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 49.
About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas. She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources.