Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
With the dawning of a new year comes the promise of a fresh start. This is probably one of the reasons why, at this particular time of the year, there is a generally renewed sense of optimism for people who wish to leave behind their past failures and march toward future opportunities.
While embarking into an unknown future can be interesting, it can be intimidating too. Thus to get anywhere, it is important that we turn to the Creator of Time (Genesis 1:14) for instruction and direction.
The Message Bible’s translation of Lamentations 3:19-33, when prayerfully studied and considered, is a well of information for us. It teaches us three truths that can help us confidently put our unknown future to the Eternal God as well us empower us to face the future victoriously.
First, let us put our vision in correct perspective. Lamentations 3:19-24 tells us, “I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all —oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great is your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.”
When Jeremiah wrote these words, his hopes were hanging by a thread. He was in utter pain and misery as he lived a seemingly beaten life of futile intercession for his corrupt people before the Holy God. He acknowledged his past troubles, his hitting the bottom. Yet he never forgot to remember the steadfast source of his hope: God, His loyal love, His merciful love, and His great faithfulness. Therefore he was able to make a definite decision to stick with God, no matter what.
We do not have to delude ourselves into believing that 2011 automatically wipes out the troubles of 2010. Our unresolved problems remain matters to be dealt with, yet they do not have to wear us down. If we hope in God, in His loyalty, mercy, and faithfulness to us, we can also make a firm choice to stick with God regardless of what the future may hold for us. We can also say that He’s all we’ve got left, and He is more than enough.
Second, let us put our expectation in the right and Righteous Object of hope.
Lamentations 3:25-27 tells us, “God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times.”
When we passionately wait on God and diligently seek God, He proves Himself good to us; He does not disappoint us. Because He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Any pursuit and desire that is not God and of God will surely leave us lost, frustrated, and disillusioned. James 4:4 reminds us that friendship with the world means enmity against God and anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
It is God’s will for us to have abundant life (John 10:10) and to prosper and be in good health, both physically and emotionally (3 John 2). But it is not His will for us to be enslaved by love of money, lure of power, and lust of the flesh. “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).
Third, let us keep a disciplined life of prayer and faith. In order to rightly deal with the heavy and hard burdens of life, whether real or imagined, Lamentations 3:28-30 exhorts us to enter into a period of meditation and prayer: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.”
The succeeding verses explain why the troubles we often dodge and fear as the worst that can happen to us, in fact, are not. Lamentations 3:31-33 assures us that “… the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way." In effect, Prophet Jeremiah was reminding us that God’s loyal love could not be faulted. It is against His very nature to just whimsically make life hard for us. It is not His kind to senselessly throw obstacles along our path. Rather, He makes all things work together, including the bad, for our good.
With the uncertainties that come with 2011, let us make sure that our perspective is correct, the Object of our hope is right, and our lives are lived in prayer and faith. If we do this, we can be assured of God’s fresh hope each and every new morning, and guaranteed that everything that comes along our way are within the bounds of God’s loyal love for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). ###