New Year and the Perfect, Guaranteed New Hope
A New Year offers many gifts, one being anticipation. It's a mark in time in which we wonder and hope about what lay ahead. There are many areas of life in which this anticipation can apply.
Hope for self-care that sticks.
Hope for healing in a relationship.
Hope for a new direction.
The possibilities are endless.
So much so that my own list of "hopes" can overwhelm me. But what if all these hopes could be sifted through a colander and filtered down to one "pure hope." A hope that covers all the rest! A hope whose fulfillment is guaranteed.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "… for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
We can know that every single thing we long for, hope for will be met each day by our Father's compassion and faithfulness. His tender commitment to us is reborn with every sunrise.
The scripture before this verse focuses on the author's dire and difficult circumstances. We hear phrases like:
I am the man who has seen affliction.
I am surrounded by bitterness and hardship.
I am walled in and can't escape.
There's a reason this book is called Lamentations. So many of its words are a lament. An expression of the sorrow in the author's heart. But then the author remembers this:
"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him." Lamentations 3:21-24
These words remind us that affliction, bitterness, and hardship can consume us. But there is a better way. It is characterized by hope, but it asks three things of us. If we want to live in daily anticipation of God's compassion and faithfulness, we need to:
1- Be mindful of our self-talk.
2- Remember that God is our portion.
3- Wait passionately.
The last part of the verse from Lamentations says: "I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him."
Did you catch that first part? "I say to myself." The author of Lamentations knew how vital self-talk is. Unfortunately, when hope is unrealized, it's easy to engage in mental dialogue that is not healthy.
Why is this happening to me, God?
Why isn't THAT happening to me, God?
Have you forgotten about me, God?
The first thing we can do when it comes to framing our hope for the future is to be careful about the conversations we have in our head with God and about God.
The enemy would love nothing better than to stand over our shoulders and stir a finger in our minds like a chef brewing rancid stew. And oh, how he wants us to stew. There is no peace in that. But even more, there is no glory to God in that. So when we succumb to negative, hopeless chatter in our brains, we deny the truth of…
God's great love.
God's unfailing compassion.
God's fathomless faithfulness.
The second thing we can do is recognize that God himself is our portion. Oh, how quickly I forget that! I get caught up in the thing I'm praying for, hoping for when all along the only thing I need is the thing I already have.
When we live each day recognizing that God is all we need, our other hopes take on their proper perspective. Of course, there is heartache when hopes are unrealized. But the disappointment is tempered when compared to the gift of walking and talking with God daily.
The third and final advice from the author of Lamentations is that we need to "wait for Him."
Waiting is not for sissies. It requires trust and patience. Depending upon the circumstances, it may also require:
It isn't easy to wait, but neither is it easy (nor desirable) to live without hope. But, when life feels as difficult as it did for the folks in Lamentations, we have a choice.
We can believe that just as the sun rises new every day, so does the compassion of our Father. And we can trust that He cares enough about us to help us through whatever circumstance we will face that day.
Scripture offers us one more pearl when it comes to waiting. Psalm 37, verse 34 reads, "Wait passionately for God."
Waiting sounds so passive, so helpless, so nothing. But here, scripture tells us that God expects us to wait with a fire in our bellies! The point isn't our waiting or what we are waiting for. The point is upon WHOM are we waiting.
Our God is Jehovah Jireh, our Great Provider. He is Elohim, the Creator of everything. He is Jehovah Raphe, the God who heals. He is Jehovah Shammah, the God who is already there, waiting for us at the end of 2022.
We wait with passion because of the One we get to walk with while we wait.
We wait with passion because when we have Jesus, we already have everything we need.
We all have hopes for the New Year. Some will be realized. Some not. But certainly, all of them will require some degree of waiting. So may we wait with passion!
Would you pray with me?