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“‘The Lord is my portion’, saith my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’. The Lord is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lam 3:24-5). In what circumstances did the prophet pen these words? Were things going well for him? Did the people to whom he prophesied heed his message? Was Jerusalem prospering under the evident blessing of God?

NO! The prophet wrote these words while in the depths of despair. The prophet complained of his dark situation. Open your Bible and read Lamentations 3. Perhaps this message will grip you as it often has me. I have shared this chapter with inmates at our local jail, and it seems to register with them. I suspect people in various situations have experienced such feelings.

At first, the prophet’s words are shock mockingly strong. How could he dare to write this? Yet in our affliction we, too, can turn against God in our pain-distorted vision. God Almighty seems to loom over us with a rod of wrath. Even the bitterness of our heart seems as if it were put there by God (v15). Why is He doing this? Our hope is perished!

Do you know that the prophet found hope in his distress? In verse 21 we see a 180 degree turn in his thinking: “This I recall, therefore I have hope.” Did the prophet just want to fool himself with happy thoughts so that he could feel better? No. What we see is a manifestation of faith. Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. That is especially true when you feel as this prophet did. And when he found faith in God, he found hope.

We also see the prophet choosing to be thankful. Instead of counting his wounds, he rejoiced that he had not been consumed.

Really, God had been merciful to him. From this vantage point, the prophet suddenly saw himself as privileged, not as treated unfairly. Verse 24 shows us that he chose to hope: “‘The Lord is my portion,’ saith my soul, ‘therefore will I hope in him’”. Maybe the prophet found this an easy choice after experimenting with the alternative. When he had turned against God, what hope was there? Bitterness may have given him a sense of security for a while but it was not enough. When he let go of his bitterness, he found hope in God.

The next three verses each use the word ‘good’. Again this was not a mental trick. The prophet was not ignoring the yoke of affliction. Instead he recognized that God is good, no matter what. Now it didn’t matter what he was going through. He would wait until he saw the good that God had for him. No longer were life’s circumstances clouding the prophet’s outlook. Instead, his renewed vision of God was shedding light on the scene. God does not delight in inflicting pain. He wants to use the things we face as a means to a merciful end. “Who is he that saith, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Is it not out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth both good and evil?” (v37-38, compare with Romans 8:28). The prophet decided he had best admit it: he could not control the events of life. Instead, his job was to control his response to the events as God allowed them. He said, “Let us search and try our ways and return again unto the Lord” (v40-41).

In the last part of the chapter, the prophet poured out his heart to God. Through a proper view of God, the prophet had found One to whom he could bare his heart. He found hope instead of despair.

Bro Gaius Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)

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