There is a New Testament verse that I suspect many of us are familiar with; that is, Romans 15:4. It says the following, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Such a verse is spoken often to encourage us to take the time to look back into the Old Testament and benefit from that part of God’s word. Truth be told though, many of us might have the tendency to almost avoid certain books. For instance, when talking with people, they express their frustration with books like Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, expressing confusion because they don’t understand so much of what they read. Yet, some of those very same people walked away enriched after our study of Leviticus because it gave insight into the cross of Christ that they did not realize before. It truly is worth our time.
Well, our theme verse for 2019 comes from one of those books often avoided by Christians, simply because of lack of insight: that book is Lamentations. The word lamentation means the passionate expression of grief or sorrow, weeping. Its title is understood when you realize it deals with the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple which took place in 586 B.C. We can read of this tragic event in 2nd Chronicles 36:11-21. Lamentations is five poems written by Jeremiah that speak to this event and its impact on God’s people.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end,
they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
Do you find it interesting that that very song we sing with these words in it, comes from a book that was written by someone in great anguish over the state of God’s people? If you take the time to read the events leading up to this tragedy, you would understand why God was so upset with His people; even so, their state was awful, and lamenting was reasonable. It seems odd to read such words when thinking of such a horrific time; that is, until you read verse 21, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” In the midst of this overwhelming event, Jeremiah reminds himself, and us, that God loves His people always. Even when He must discipline them for their behavior.
Reading the unread. When was the last time you read Lamentations? Maybe this might be the first time, and that is okay. My prayer is as we consider this text and the background behind it, that we become even more committed to the God that so desperately loves His people. Thank You Lord for 2018 and may we dedicate 2019 to the One who makes it all possible.