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.
Psalm 73 is a wisdom psalm. The psalmist struggled to understand why the wicked prosper, and he was envious of them (vv. 2-3). They were saying that God didn’t even take knowledge of him; that He didn’t care about him (v. 11). His efforts to live a pure life seemed futile because all the while he himself was suffering (vv. 13-14). It was not until he finally sought God for answers that he came to understand the fearful destiny of the wicked in complete destruction (vv. 17-19). With a convicted and penitent heart, he then realized that he should never have complained and questioned God (vv. 21-22). He knew that God had always been there for him and would ultimately bring him to glory (vv. 23-24).
It is here that the psalmist exclaimed: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (vv. 25-26).
These days are especially troubling. It is stressful, frightening, and difficult. In such times we often react out of fear, anger, and frustration. Some do a lot of finger pointing and complaining. Others exploit such times to promote their own agenda or for their own profit, wreaking havoc, violence and destruction. These things lead to division, fighting and much harm. According to James 3:13-18, wisdom teaches us differently.
Wisdom is seen in how we conduct ourselves (vv. 13-14). It calls for good behavior characterized by meekness. Meekness is not weakness but acting with gentleness and self-control. It calls for humility. Selfish envy and pride are contrary to the truth. Wisdom is more than words. It is who we are and how we live our lives.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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