He wakes at 5 am, gets in a quick workout, and starts the workday by 7:30. He works hard and makes enough to keep the bills paid, sometimes with a little extra at the end of the month. His friends know him as a kind and well-adjusted guy, someone who has weathered some tough storms in recent years but emerged OK on the other side.
But there are things that he doesn’t talk about. Areas of his life so parched and dry that the aching for fulfillment eventually got to be too much for him.
He built a wall, to keep the emptiness contained.
He built a wall, so he could function.
He has routines, and the busyness keeps him distracted.
It keeps the ache at bay.
“He has besieged and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me live in dark places, like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot get out; He has weighted down my chain. Even when I cry out and shout for help, He shuts out my prayer.” (Lamentations 3:5-8, Amplified)
The blue light of the alarm clock mocks her, chiding her for being awake at this hour. She rolls over and pulls up the blanket even higher. She tries to push it away, but the emptiness from the other side of the bed swallows her. Finally, she gives in and her tears silently absorb into the pillow.
“My soul has been cast far away from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished and so has my hope and expectation from the LORD.””(Lamentations 3:17-18, Amplified)
What happens when you play a country song backwards?
You get your wife back, your dog back, your truck back ….
The whole of Lamentations, Chapter 3 reminds me of a country song. It tells a miserable story of trial and disappointment, of deep pain and questioning.
We all have experienced the gut wrenching pain of loss, disappointment, and loneliness. We have all built walls, and wear facades so others won’t see what we’re hiding behind them. Maybe his walls are tall and mighty, built over many decades. Maybe hers are new and still fragile. Some people have walled off huge sections of themselves, while others portray an illusion of openness while managing to tightly guard their innermost selves under lock and key. We all have lost hope at some point or another and can relate to the Lamentations of Jeremiah on behalf of the people of Israel. What a terrible feeling that is – to have reached a place of non-expectation in or from the LORD.
But what I find most remarkable about this passage of scripture is that even in all of the pain and hopelessness, there is a pathway back to hope.
“But this I call to mind, therefore I have hope. It is because of the LORD’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:24, Amplified)
How does one do that? How does someone have no hope (vs 18) and have hope (vs 24) at the same time?
I think the answer is hidden in seven little words, for immediately following the declaration of hopelessness in God, the writer calls to mind the lovinkindnesses (plural) of God …
… and hope revives!
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