Recall To Your Mind!
17 You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. 18 And I said, “My strength and my hope have perished from the LORD.” 19 Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul still remembers and sinks within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. 22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
Lamentations 3:17-24 NKJV
The brain is arguably the most complex organ in the central nervous system! Its ability to accumulate and store large volumes of information is an incredible testament to the creativity and ingenious of its Creator! Often times, it can feel as if all the thoughts floating in our minds are competing against each other in order to occupy the front seat! Despite how overwhelming this feeling may seem, we do have the ability to choose which thought(s) occupy that front seat! We can choose to dwell on that which is saddening and depressing just as equally as we can choose to dwell on that which encourages and lifts our spirits! While this does not mean that certain memories will not creep up and try to ascend to the forefront at times, we can exercise control over which thoughts will remain at the forefront of our minds!
Although the author of Lamentations does not identify himself throughout the five chapters of the book, the prophet Jeremiah is overwhelmingly regarded as the author, and with good reason! Jeremiah is prominently remembered as the young man whom God called to be a prophet to the nations at a young age (cf. Jeremiah 1:4-6). He is also widely regarded as the “weeping prophet”. One of Jeremiah’s primary assignments was to preach repentance to the nation of Judah; he called them to turn away from their wicked and idolatrous ways and return to the Lord their God! However, the citizens of Judah did not receive Jeremiah’s messages very well, and consequently, he endured much opposition and persecution throughout his ministry, which further resulted in much lament, or sorrow from Jeremiah!
Due to Judah’s failure to repent as a nation, God sovereignly ordained the nation of Babylon to destroy Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, and its surrounding cities as the execution of His divine judgment against them, just as Jeremiah previously warned them (cf. Jeremiah 18:11). The book of Lamentations, which immediately follows the book of Jeremiah, begins in the immediate aftermath of Judah’s fall to the Babylonians. Jeremiah, the regarded author, begins to describe the effects of Babylon’s devastating conquest of Judah in very eloquent detail. In the first two chapters, Jeremiah expresses the grief and sorrow of the nation of Judah as a whole. In Chapter 3, he laments from his own perspective and experience!
Jeremiah acknowledges that the affliction Judah is suffering from is the result of God’s disciplinal wrath (cf. Lamentations 3:1). From Jeremiah’s viewpoint, it appears as if God has deserted, derailed, and even positioned Himself to attack him: “Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer” (v. 8), "He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked" (v. 9), “He has been to me a bear lying in wait, like a lion in ambush” (v. 10), respectively. This myriad of emotions leads us to the first two verses of today’s abbreviated passage in which Jeremiah says, “You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. And I said, 'My strength and my hope have perished from the LORD.' " Amidst the suffering that he is currently enduring, Jeremiah feels as if God has abandoned him, even though He truly has not! Admittedly, there is indeed something about experiencing suffering that can make you feel, and even falsely believe that God has abandoned you.
Following twenty verses filled with deep, heart-wrenching lament, a shift in Jeremiah’s mind and perspective occurs in the twenty-first verse, which he begins by saying, “This I recall to my mind, therefore, I have hope”. What does Jeremiah recall to his mind, or bring back to the forefront of his mind? Essential truths regarding the Lord’s character and nature:
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed”
“The Lord’s (His) compassions fail not”
“His mercies (They) are new every morning”
“Great is the Lord’s (Your) faithfulness"
It is because of these essential truths that Jeremiah has hope in the midst of his despair! This word recall is in the active voice, not passive! Jeremiah actively brought these truths regarding the Lord’s nature and character to the forefront of his mind! Surely, this weeping prophet knew from firsthand experience that it was because of the Lord’s mercies that he was not consumed, neither by the rebellious people of Judah who rejected his message of repentance nor by the Lord’s divine judgment of Judah which devastated their nation. Surely, Jeremiah knew that the Lord’s compassions towards him did not fail because the Lord continued to comfort and encourage him throughout his ministry despite his anguish and frustration over his assignment.
Surely, he could testify that the Lord’s mercies were new every morning as he experienced the Lord’s lovingkindnesses in new ways day after day! Most of all, Jeremiah knew without a doubt that the Lord’s faithfulness was great and beyond measure, as the Amplified Version reads! The Lord strengthened, preserved, and sustained Jeremiah for more than forty years of prophetic ministry, even more so his entire life! The Lord also remained faithful to Judah, whom He did not forsake even though they consistently forsook Him! Therefore, Jeremiah declares from his soul that “The Lord is my portion…therefore I hope in Him!”
One of our greatest weapons as believers and followers of Jesus Christ is our history with God! As we continue to move through various seasons of life, such as the one we are currently living in as a nation and world, our ability and determination to recall to our minds the truth of who God is, has always been, and always will be will not only encourage, but also motivate us to endure! Our history with God involves so many demonstrations of triumph: salvation, deliverance, healing, restoration, redemption, the opening of new doors and opportunities, answered and even non-answered prayers; all these things cement our hope in the changeless God!
While our grief and sorrows can feel too heavy to bear at times, we must recall to mind Isaiah 53:4, which states that He, referring to Jesus who is described as the Messianic Servant, has already borne our griefs and carried our sorrows and pains through His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Despite our feelings of brokenness and loneliness, we must recall to mind Psalm 34:18, which states that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and that He saves those who are crushed in spirit! When our struggle with sin seems to weaken us, we must recall to mind II Corinthians 12:9, which states that the Lord’s power is made perfect, or complete, in our weakness! In order to recall to our minds the truth of who God is, we must study and hide His Word in our hearts! We must actively recall His Word to the forefront of our minds, not to neglect the severity or reality of our current situations, but to remind ourselves that the God of our salvation rules and reigns above ALL! Therefore, we have hope, and in the words of the apostle Paul, this hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given and who dwells within us! (cf. Romans 5:5)