So at the start of last week's service, we set two digital audio recorders running simultaneously and, heh-heh, y'know, neither of them worked! :) Appropriate, given how the original title of Lamentations can also be roughly translated as: "What the...?!?"
However, thanks to Maree's video, biblegateway.com, and Brett's written notes on his sermon, there is hope...
In fact, Lamentations 3 helps us discover hope in the darkness.
1 I am the man who has seen affliction
Before there can be light we must acknowledge darkness. Before there can be hope we must acknowledge despair. Hope is not about pretending that the darkness doesn’t exist. It’s always darkest before the dawn.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
For most of us it comes down to a contest of memory – if you like which memory is strongest in us.
What is it that he calls to mind and which operates as a source of hope? The nature of God as the God of the new day. The memory of the compassionate God – he knows we have short memories that’s why his compassion is new every morning! Darkness is defeated when we add light. Despair is defeated when we add hope. And because we carry both darkness and light it will be the kind of hope that we hold as recent memory that will make the difference.
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Waiting is a part of our experience. Sometimes we wait in the dark. Hope is not about circumstances being transformed. Hope is about finding light in the darkness. And so waiting in the darkness with the light that we have from God is a part of our experience.
This is really what the poet is experiencing as his memories converge – the memory of darkness and the light of hope. He is rediscovering light but darkness is still objectively there. He is still in exile, Jerusalem is still destroyed, Israel is still experiencing great hardship. He is waiting but with hope rather than despair.