I heard a brief thought on Lamentations 3:20-26 in the middle of a larger message back in March... it has recently come back to me and got me thinking again, so I thought I'd share here.
If you're anything like me, we're a lot like Jeremiah (the understood writer of Lamentations, I believe) in his musings... he is discouraged and remembering all the things that went wrong... talk about falling down into a pit of despair and losing sight of hope! It is so easy to focus on the negatives - sometimes imagined, but sometimes very legitimate and real. Sometimes it's emotional, or maybe moodiness that might come with a grey, dreary, lonely day... other times it's a real hard hit and time of testing for your faith.
Surely then it's justified to dwell on the bleakness and pain of our situation... isn't it? Those around us might be understanding and affirm our natural reactions and emotions... but our God has a higher expectation of us.
We often hear Colossians 3:2 quoted... "Set your minds on things above..." Or 1 Peter 1:13... "Prepare your mind for action.... set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed..." And we certainly can't leave out Phillipians 4:8 where we're given a wonderful list of things to occupy our thoughts... "Think on these things..."
So it's clear that our God desires us to spend mental energy focusing our thoughts in the right direction...
The next few verses show the outcome that can result in controlling our thoughts. Lamentations 3:20-26:
"...I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind (or recall) and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love (lovingkindness or steadfast love) we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail (never cease, never stop). They (His compassion, His mercies) are new (fresh) every morning; GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD...."
We can let our minds wander and let our thoughts take our emotions wherever they want... or we can learn from Jeremiah here... he deliberately made a conscious effort to change his thinking pattern... he was losing hope... but went back and started to remember all the blessings from God, and the times God showed up and proved Himself over and over... he focused his thoughts on the goodness and faithfulness of his God, reminding himself that his God had never failed him... he had constantly been surrounded with God's love - even in the dark times.
Like Jeremiah, when we wake up every morning and have no clue what is ahead of us for that day, we can take comfort in knowing that God knows what we will face and He has set aside a portion of His mercy, His compassion, and His strength for us to get through that day... His mercies and compassion are new and fresh every morning... for me. For you.
Jeremiah remembered this and this caused him to burst out in praise to His God's faithfulness... by remembering all of God's goodness, his thought process and attitude changed and his heart praised His God... and from that praise and worship, the end result was peace in the true lasting HOPE that our God offers... and when our hope is in God, there is a certain quietness and peace in us while we wait for Him to work things out... to direct us... to show His hand. This isn't just for Jeremiah - it's for me and you today too.
Maybe you can ask yourself the same questions I'm asking myself... Where do I find my hope and peace? And where do I let my thoughts linger... and what effect is that having?