Hope: When It Doesn't Get Better: As Seen On Sunday
We're sorry that we have spent so much time looking to you for what you can do for us, rather than looking to you as our hope because of who you are.
In chapter 1 we talked about looking for comfort in the wrong things. Josh honed in on this when we talked about when the “haves” become the “have nots" and how our identities are wrapped up in things.
Chapter 2 we talked about living a life in which God no longer meets us in the sacred places or at all. We also talked about how we often see people as their problems rather than people: we love causes but care less about the names and faces behind it.
That brings us to chapter 3. Rah says that it is the climax of the book. The first part of this chapter is a summary of the first 2 chapters from the perspective of Jeremiah the prophet. But the chapter takes a turn in perspective, there is Hope: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:” (Lam 3:21).
How can he have hope despite all of the death? Where does hope come from that this point? Their actions were the reason for all the pain. As a white privileged male with depression, I often feel everything is hopeless but these people were eating their own children! Where is the hope in that? I think an important distinction is that there is a difference between everything getting better and having hope in God. I’ve always had problems with the quote “it gets better” because I think it is a false hope. There are so many examples within the Bible and out of people who never saw life get better before they died. In the Christian realm, we always have the hope in death to be reunited with God, but that's not what they saying means. We tell it to people who want to kill themselves as vain platitude not to. This is not to say that it is completely hopeless, I say all this to say that there IS hope, but it is not found in 3 humanistic words about pushing through until we make it better. Saying “it gets better” to an Israelite in Lamentations is pretty silly.
After 2 1/3 chapters about all the things that have gone wrong, Jeremiah says that there is still hope.
Our hope is in God’s character.
Our hope is that after God’s wrath there is still love. That is not to say that there is no love in God’s judgment as I don’t believe we can divorce His attributes from each other. But we know that God’s love never ends. That He is faithful to His promises. Since we KNOW these things, we have hope since God never changes.
Jeremiah still had all of God’s promises that he knew God would not go back on since God is faithful and merciful so he had hope in God. If mercies are new every morning and the Israelites are in a time of judgment, then this offers hope for God to relent.
Rah says that “hope is dependent on who God IS rather than what we can do for ourselves” (127).
That quote really stuck with me.
We do not have hope in that we’ll all suddenly get it together after all this time and “please” God. We have been getting it twisted forever. We have treated God like an idol that we just need to appease in the right way for things to go right, but we end up trying to appease all the other idols and just hope God is along for the ride.
25 through 30 is all about waiting on and submission to God. Since we can trust in God’s character, all we need to do is submit to Him as God is in control. It is abiding in God because God “will not cast off forever.”
So now we come back full circle. We cannot hope in the change or in it “getting better.” I think that a view like that takes our eyes off of God and puts it back in our circumstances.
From an individualistic perspective, there really isn’t hope, though. Because individualism says that if things do not change within my time there isn’t hope. Hope in God breaks down individualism. Hope in Lamentations is for the Israelites as a people. They are still His people and He is still their God. We cannot be stuck on what's in it for me but hope in who God is.