Our theme for 2021 is RENEW, and we’re focusing on a different aspect of renewal on the first Sunday of each month (because so many of our folks were at the retreat last weekend, I moved it to the second Sunday for May).
I read straight through Lamentations earlier this week, and I was struck by a couple of things: it’s a bit discouraging, especially if you focus on what seems to feelings of hopelessness within Jeremiah. But this is very important: a second, more important theme present in the book is that it is crucial to recognize that even when things look bad around us, God is always present . . . his “mercies . . . are new every morning.”
Judah had been taken captive, and they were languishing under the hard fist of a merciless pagan ruler. They despised their situation. They despaired for the future. “Why do you forget us forever, why do you forsake us for so many days?”
And yet, Jeremiah strikes a tone of hopefulness in the book. Has God really forgotten us? Has he abandoned us? Will we stay in Babylon forever?
In the middle of the book is this core message, the lyrics to a song that you can probably hear in your head right now: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'”
Jeremiah’s point, I think, is this: When we encounter situations that aren’t what we wish they were, a voice within us might tell us that God has abandoned us, forgotten us, turned his back on us. Instead, because we know God’s character, we remember that he always has reasons for what he does, and that he wants us to learn to trust him.
So our prayer is like Judah’s: “Renew our days as of old” . . . help us to learn whatever you want to teach us. Help us to learn to lean on you and trust you–no matter what’s going on around us.