“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lamentations 3: 21-24 NKJV)
After Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, those left behind in the city were without hope. It was during this time that the book we know of as Lamentations was written. The book is attributed to Jeremiah, who was there at the time, and I will consider the author. It reflected the anguish of the people dealing with the fact that God had allowed their beautiful city to be desolated. Even in the midst of their despair, there are indications of hope and trust in God. Jeremiah, in the middle of this Lamentation, began with understanding that God’s mercy could be seen in the truth that they were still alive. Hope existed because they were still alive and God was still faithful. When they had lost everything else, they learned to depend on God. That doesn’t mean that they stopped lamenting their situation, it just meant that they recognized that God was still with them.
There’s a heresy in today’s world that says that if God loves you, He’s going to bless you real good. It’s heresy not because God doesn’t bless His children, but because those who proclaim that only think in terms of financial prosperity. The implication is often that those who don’t gain great wealth somehow aren’t right in their relationship with God. One of the criticisms of the Pope in the middle ages before the Reformation was “The son of Man came into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey while the Pope comes into Rome on a warhorse with an army.” Perhaps we should refine that commentary for today. I always wonder about those who would cheapen the gospel to make it about financial prosperity in light of Christians in areas of the world where people are suffering imprisonment, torture, and death merely for believing in Jesus. My guess is that those Christians see much more of God in the book of Lamentations than in the proclamations of health and wealth. Going through that persecution, they understand that hope begins with life and God’s compassions never fails. They’ve learned to cling to God and put their hope in Him. They understand what it means to be blessed real good in ways that I will never be able to understand. Today would be a good day to pray God’s blessings on the persecuted church
Lord, my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are undergoing severe persecution. Many are dying for their faith. Others are undergoing torture and imprisonment. I pray that they would recognize Your presence in the midst of all the persecution. I pray that Your mercy would be real to them and that You would continue to give them hope and an experience of Your presence.
One article that relates the persecution Christians undergo is here