J-P spoke tonight from Lamentations 3:1-22. Lamentations (the ‘complaining song’ in Afrikaans) is not a happy book: written at the time of Israel’s exile, it deals with many questions which are still very relevant to us today. Such questions include ‘how can I still believe in a good God when all around me is doom and gloom?’, ‘how can I keep hoping when everything seems to be lost?‘ and ‘what do I have to live for?’ There is a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the book which many relate to in our current political climate.
Israel, God’s chosen people, were in exile, removed from their promised land by Nebuchadnezzar’s war machine. They were being punished for their sin and disobedience, but for many, this exile seemed relentless and endless. When life throws us curveballs, we can blame God and lose hope; darkness surrounds us and can often seep within us. Nonetheless, despite the litany of distress and confusion the writer feels, there is still hope. We don’t have to be chained to the past; we can still look up and look ahead to the future.
God’s compassions are new every morning. God’s love carries us through the dark times and give us perspective. Instead of dwelling on a dark past, we can look to a bright future. In a moment of clarity, the writer glimpses life and light; he saw tomorrow and was willing to give God a chance again.
God is always there for us – in the past, in the present and in the future. We need the perspective Lamentations gives us. Yes, we can lament and complain, but we can also have hope. As Ps 30:5 says, ‘weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.’