A Reason to Hope

A few months back, inspired by a suggestion from a friend of mine, I made the decision to do a brief study on the book of Lamentations. It is a small, often ignored book filled with horrifying firsthand descriptions of the fall of Jerusalem. Not exactly the first place we, as New Covenant believers, look to for inspiration or practical living advice. But nestled within those pages of death, destruction, and despair, there is a message. A beautiful depiction of a God whose compassion transcends all of that depravity and devastation. A guiding light of hope that promises that even in the greatest depths of our pain God is still there—waiting and working to restore us to Himself.

The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah, who is frequently referred to as the “weeping prophet,” lived what was potentially one of the hardest lives humanity has ever seen. He was instructed by God not to marry (Jeremiah 16:2) as the grief his life would bring upon a wife and children would be too much for them to bear. He was also instructed, “do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.” (Jeremiah 7:6 NIV) He was a witness to a generation that had long since made up their minds to their course action and that action was rebellion. The book itself, Lamentations, literally means to weep or grieve passionately. But even here, God’s compassion is evident, and it provides hope for a better day.

“Lord, look and consider
     who You have done this to.
Should women eat their own children, 
     the infants they have nurtured? 
Should priests and prophets
     be killed in the Lord’s sanctuary?
Both young and old
     are lying on the ground in the streets.
My young men and women
     have fallen by the sword.
You have killed them in the day of Your anger…”
Lamentations 2:20-21a HCSB

These are horrifying descriptions of what was taking place within the walls of Jerusalem. Babylon had laid siege to the city, meaning they had encamped all around its walls, cutting off any supply of food, and simply waited for the city to starve itself to death. Then, once the city was too weak and frail to fight back, they swept in and finished off what was left and burned it to the ground.

Perhaps, that is why what follows sounds so strikingly beautiful and amazing. It stands in total contrast to everything around it. As Jeremiah looks around and sees fire, blood, and judgment, he also remembers who the Lord is. The Lord is compassionate. The Lord is faithful.

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
     we do not perish,
     for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
     great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
     therefore I will put my hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:23-25 HCSB

The contrast is so stark that you almost have to go back and read it again. But what Jeremiah is saying here, and he continues to say it all throughout the remainder of the book, is that as long as we are still alive—as long as we have not perished—then the Lord has had mercy on us. He still has a plan for us, for if He didn’t, He would have wiped us off the face of the earth. Yet we are alive, so Yahweh must still have compassion, and we can put our hope in Him.

Now think to your present circumstances, whatever they maybe. Do they in any way compare to the circumstances that faced Jeremiah on the night he penned those words? Is your entire city being burned to the ground? Are the people around you resorting to cannibalism because they have nowhere else to turn? Are the dead being piled up on the streets outside of your door? Then how much more of a reason do you have to hope than he did on that night? God has not abandoned you. Even when you bring the whole world down on your head. Even when it is entirely your fault. There is nothing that cannot be covered by God’s compassion. There is nothing that will not be covered by God’s compassion, illustrated in the death of Christ on the cross.

We always have hope because of God’s covenant faithfulness. He made a covenant with Abraham: that His descendants would inhabit this land forever. He made a covenant with David: that a king would come from His line whose reign would be eternal. He fulfilled both of those promises. He returned Israel to their land and brought about the Messiah who would break the bondage of sin and death. He overcame all that plagued Israel in order to fulfill His promise, even though that tragedy and their depravity seemed insurmountable. Therefore, as long as we are still living and breathing, we can cling to the hope for a better day, because God’s compassion never fails. It brings about mercy after mercy. We do not have to live in fear of the Lord deserting us because we have His promise and because we have the work of Christ.

So join in the hope of Jeremiah who waited for the day of restoration, join in the hope of Zechariah and Simeon who waited for the day of the coming Messiah, join in the hope of all creation for the day when the King will return and restore the earth to the glory of the One who made it, and never give up hope because God’s compassion will never fail.

With the hope and love of the Coming King,

Jonathon Hastings

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him…
It is good to wait quietly
     for deliverance from the Lord… 
He will show us compassion
     according to His faithful love.”
Lamentations 3:25a, 26, 32b HCSB

←Part 1                                                                                                                                                  Part 3 →


2 thoughts on “Compassion Is a Reason to Hope

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