As we enter the new year, some of us may be apprehensive of the uncertainties ahead. We may also feel uneasy for the things we did in the past year. We may have let ourselves or others down. We look at our walk with God and may regret that we have not been as faithful to Him as we should. Or, we feel that we have not been the kind of Christian as we ought to be. All these feelings may discourage and depress us as we face the year. How could we face this year with confidence and joy in the Lord? In Lamentations 3: 19- 24, we have God’s prescription for turning our depressing year into a year of triumph and hope.
Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations as a funeral dirge for the demise of Jerusalem, a city which was praised as “the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth” (Lam. 2: 15). The whole nation was devastated, the city was burned down, and the temple was completely destroyed. The people suffered the calamities of “the sword, the famine and the pestilence” (Jer. 24: 10). What remained were the ruins and a handful of survivors who were trying to pick up their broken lives from the aftermath of divine judgment.
Facing such a gloomy situation, Jeremiah poured out his heart in sympathetic laments. In the midst of this horrific tragedy, he did not sink into great depression but kept his faith in God. What was the secret of his triumphant faith? We could discover three pointers to help us face this year with confidence in God.
First, we must have a right mental attitude. “This I recall to my mind” (vs. 21). Our thoughts often affect our behavior. When we are in trouble, we tend to react in panic and thus find ourselves in deeper trouble. When our problems get bigger and out of control, we begin to blame God or our circumstances. Somehow we fail to see our faults and forget that the Lord is still on His throne (Ps. 46: 10). In this dire situation, we need to maintain a right attitude and acknowledge Him in all our ways (Prov. 3: 5, 6). Then, God will step in and guide us out of our despair into the realm of hope.
Secondly, we must have a right perspective of His mercies, compassions and faithfulness (vs. 22, 23). God has never failed Jeremiah in the past and He will remain faithful in the future. In the light of God’s character, Jeremiah finds hope and comfort to face the pain and sorrow of the present.
The hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, captures this thought well.
“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”
Finally, we could look forward to a victorious year, when we make a right commitment to God (vs. 24). This commitment is a conscious acknowledgment of His will in every area of our lives – family, job, business, plans and hobbies etc. This is what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. It is a total commitment to the authority of Jesus Christ over us.
We can face the New Year with confidence and hope, if we follow Jeremiah’s example by having a right mental attitude; a right perspective of God and a right commitment to our Lord Jesus.
Rev. Mark Tay