Hope in Turbulent Times
At the prayer meeting on Friday night, a small group of us prayed that the Lord would grant us a “new” year. 2020 was a turbulent year and so far this year has been more of the same. Nonetheless, I believe God wants us to see this year with a renewed sense of hope and change. That doesn’t mean that all of our problems – the pandemic, the social and political unrest, our own personal trials – will just melt away. No, there are various reasons why we experience trials and tribulations in life, some which we will never know until we see the Lord in Heaven. However, in the midst of these difficult times, I think we can find true hope and peace in the care of our good and faithful God.
Years ago, a major art gallery sponsored a competition for painters offering prizes for the best painting on the subject of “peace.” The painting that won was a real surprise! It wasn’t a portrait of a beautiful sunset over the ocean or a meadow with animals resting next to a stream. It was a painting of a violent storm along the coast. The sky was dark and ominous, lightning was flashing across the sky, and the waves were crashing against the rocky cliffs along the shore. Where was the peace? Well in the middle of the storm, hidden in one of the cliffs was a small nest with a mother bird warmly covering her baby chicks under her wings. This is a picture of peace.
Despite the turbulence of these times, God wants to reassure you and me of his love and faithfulness. We see this in the book of Lamentations. When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, they took some of the Jewish people captive and deported them to Babylon. Does this sound familiar? This is what happened to Daniel and his three friends in our current sermon series. However, some of the citizens were left behind in terrible conditions in and around the city of Jerusalem. To express their deep shame and grief over the destruction of their city, their homes, and their lives, they wrote songs of lament about the sufferings they were witnessing and experiencing. In Lamentations, we see people of faith putting into words their struggle to understand how God could have allowed something so devastating to happen. And this may be how some of you may feel right now about the difficulties this past year.
But right smack dab in the middle of the book, is a passage of hope and encouragement, a light in the darkness. Lamentations 3:21-25 reads “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 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.’The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”Here we see the beauty of a new day, a new year! New compassions, new mercies await us. They are new every morning!
Beloved, we’re on a journey. Everything doesn’t get fixed in one day or even one year (obviously). But in the midst of it all, we are not consumed and his mercies never fail! In this new year then, let us call to mind the hope that God promises and let us remember the well-known refrain “Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”