Monday, December 3, 2012

Identity Embrace: Hope in Despair, Part I

There are moments when the pains of life seem too hard to bear.

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Jeremiah would know. He witnessed the destruction of his city, Jerusalem, and the exile of his people as a direct result of their disobedience to the Lord. Jeremiah cries,

"He shot his arrows deep into my heart. My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. He has filled me with bitterness. He has given me a cup of deep sorrow to drink" (Lamentations 3:13-14).

Have you ever had to drink a cup of deep sorrow like Jeremiah did?

My guess is that each one of us has had to succumb to the discipline of God, in order to learn of His vast love for us. Yes, His love. God's discipline, His allowance of unfortunate, dark seasons in our lives, is not without reason. His love overcomes all intentional hardships as He directs us through the fire.

We come out changed.

As we enter this season of Advent with great expectancy for the coming Savior, we focus in on the HOPE that Jesus gives us in his freedom from death. Jeremiah speaks of his one hope amidst all the destruction occuring around him:

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the LORD never ends. By his mercies, we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh every day. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him!" (3:22-24)

Can you imagine choosing HOPE when all else is falling apart around you? What would it look like to worship the Lord for his goodness, knowing that his discipline is purposeful?

Three qualities of God we learn from Jeremiah's proclamation:

ONE: God's love is unfailing and never ends (v. 22).

TWO: God is merciful and protective (v. 23).

THREE: God is our one hope and inheritance (v. 24).

I encourage you to read the entirety of chapter three in Lamentations here, to fully grasp the depths of Jeremiah's despair.

On Wednesday, we will touch on our response to God's love and His discipline.

What trial in your life do you need to put in perspective right now? How can you praise God for His unfailing love, mercy and hope during this trial?

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