Stress, stress, so much stress. Every day seems to bring a new problem that I don’t know the solution for. I know I am not alone. Lamentations 3:1-20 (and for that matter Lamentations 1-2) recounts the stresses, the devastation really, that Jeremiah faced. The people of Israel had been taken captive and Jerusalem had been destroyed. Jeremiah lamented his situation, dwelt on it and was completely depressed and hopeless. When I look at what Jeremiah was facing, and what others around me are facing it helps to put my problems into perspective. But as long as I focus on my problems, I, like Jeremiah, will be downcast.
The people of Israel were being punished for their acts of rebellion. That is not the reason for our trials. Romans 8:1 tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But the Lord still uses these trials to restore us to righteousness when necessary and also to teach us and shape us into the people that he wants us to be. Romans 5:3-5 tells us that we can rejoice in our sufferings, because they will produce endurance, character and hope. Hope is not merely wishful thinking; it is a confident expectation that God will keep His promises to us just as He kept His covenant with Israel.
In Lamentations 3:21, Jeremiah changes his focus. He looks instead to God and realizes that it is because of God’s mercy that the tribe of Israel was not consumed altogether. And because of God’s mercy the same is true for us. The stressful situations may be endless, but the loving kindness and compassion of the Lord never end either. Every day He has new mercies for us. (Lamentations 3:22-24) Let us, as Jeremiah did, put our hope and trust in Him.