her early leaf's a flower, but only so an hour…”
A shriveled space devoid of color is being filled with light and healing. I am so grateful for the certainty of the seasonal changes here in central Pennsylvania. We might gripe a little, come March, when a sudden snowstorm paralyzes our valley, but we still know, unwaveringly, that spring will come. No doubt. The comfort of this truth has carried me through many a drab winter day. Spring always comes.
“This too shall pass;” the words roll off the tongue so glibly I wonder if they even looped through the brain on the way out. Did God reveal that this person’s difficult season will end soon? Or is it just wishful thinking…or maybe no thinking at all?
We say –
Oh, it’s just a stage.
Everyone goes through that; you’ll be okay.
Tomorrow will be a better day.
Hang in there.
I’m praying for complete healing in Jesus name.
I think that we generally mean well when we offer easy words in hard times.
But what if they aren’t true?
What if it’s not a season, but forever, or at least until death…which might seem like forever?
What if that addiction wins?
What if it isn’t just a rough patch and the marriage falls apart completely and irreversibly?
What if that mental health knot is never untangled and she always struggles, in and out of psychiatric care?
What if that child is going to die of this disease instead of being miraculously healed?
The little book of Lamentations, wedged between Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the Old Testament, seems an unlikely place to find hope. Commiseration, maybe, such as in these words:
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings…
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
(Lamentations 3: 17-20)
I thought about this recently when we viewed the Samaritan’s Purse movie, Facing Darkness, which tells the story of the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Liberia. When asked if his faith sustained him through the ordeal of contracting Ebola, Dr. Kent Brantly responded thoughtfully, “In a very real way, it was my faith, it was our attempt to follow Christ, that got me Ebola; And that changes my perspective on faith. Faith is not something that makes you safe.” (You can read more here.)
And I thought, yes. This. Truth.
But where, then, is hope? The writer of Lamentations isn’t finished. These are the verses that come next, and I find them brimming with hope:
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3: 21-23)
Birdsong and Virginia bluebells make that easy…
and today, my little neighbor’s hand, clutching dandelions, stretching through the fence toward me, nearly brought me to tears. Every day, I seek those joyful moments.
But when life requires me to dig deeper to find unfaltering, unfailing hope, I turn to this promise – this good word from the Word:
God’s unfailing, steadfast love for me never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning!Oh how great is His faithfulness!
I can count on a new supply of His love and mercies and faithfulness- undiminished, inexhaustible- every morning. For me. (And you!)
says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.”