It was one of the darkest times in the history of God’s people. Because of their shocking sinfulness they suffered untold horrors from the Babylonians especially during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. In Lamentations (3:21-25), Jeremiah mourns over them, but he also shines four rays of light from the LORD upon them to brighten their future.
Hope is the first ray of light: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope” (v. 21). Jeremiah brought a message of hope to the people. It was not a just the wishful thinking of a naïve optimist nor was it based on chance like that of the gambler. No, it was the LORD that he had in mind. His hope rested upon the LORD. Without Him there is no hope but with Him there is always hope.
God’s word is meant to be experienced. Read, pray, sing, study, memorize, meditate upon and live the words of God. Try this with Psalms 131.
Experience humility. David was a shepherd boy when God called him to be king of Israel. It would be many years before he would sit on the throne, but he was perfectly content. He set pride aside and went through the experience of humility. When the time was right, he gladly served as a man after God’s own heart.
Of the seven things God hates that are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19, the first on the list is “a proud look”. Like David, we must first humble ourselves. Jesus taught His apostles to humble themselves as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-4). He set the example for His apostles when at the last Passover with them he washed their feet (John 13). The apostle Paul warned every person “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). Peter wrote: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
The coronavirus pandemic has brought a great hardship to many people around the world. It has caused a great problem for the church because most have not been able to assemble as a congregation. If I tell you all today to look with me in God’s word, the Bible, some might respond, “I don’t even know if there is a God. Where is He? What is He doing? Why doesn’t He take this all away? And, what does a book written thousand of years ago have to do with us today?” My answer is, “Yes, there is a God, He will take this all away and everything else in this world; and the Bible has everything to do with us.” All of this is not much different from the persecution endured by the church in Jerusalem when they were scattered from their homes, their jobs and separated from family and friends (Acts 8:1-4). It is to these Christians and others like them that Peter writes his first epistle. He gives them a message of hope that is just as relevant and powerful as it was when it was first written.
The coronavirus pandemic has been going on for some time now and it is uncertain when things are going to get better. This is when some begin to lose hope. They cannot see beyond it and don’t know how they are going to survive it. If that is you, then you need to hear this word from God: “Hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5).
Paul wrote these God-inspired words to Christians in Rome. They would be persecuted by the Roman emperor Nero, being nailed to crosses and burnt to death. There must have been those who lost all hope. God wanted them to know and He wants us to know that hope does not disappoint.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Judah was facing seventy years of captivity for their sinful rebellion against God. Yet, He wants them to know His thoughts for them. It was not to do them evil, but to give them a future and a hope. This is what God wants for all His people.
Sometimes we find ourselves suffering the consequences of our sins, as well as the sins of others. In those times we can become discouraged, knowing only doom and destruction. Often, we become angry at ourselves, at others and at God. It is difficult for us to understand what is happening and why it is happening. Instead of turning to God in prayer and going to His word for answers and for help, we fall away from Him.
When Christians were being severely persecuted for their faith, Jesus revealed in a vision to John, His beloved apostle, a message of comfort and hope.
"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?' And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals'" (Revelation 5:1-5).
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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