October has been a busy month filled with speaking at retreats and conferences. Everywhere I’ve gone, the same thing has happened – people have told me about their personal struggles or heartaches. This month I’ve heard numerous stories of marriages breaking up for various reasons. I’ve met a couple of young widows whose husbands were killed recently in tragic accidents. I’ve spoken with women who have whispered secrets from their past – they’ve had abortions or suffered from rape or sexual abuse. Some are devastated by their kids’ involvement in drugs or alcohol. Others are worried sick about the influence an ex-spouse with questionable habits and character is having on their children.
I hear these stories and my heart nearly breaks. On many occasions, I’ve returned home and cried for them. I’ve asked God to come to their rescue, to bring healing to their hurting hearts, and restore their broken places.
Life can be harsh sometimes. The writer of Lamentations 3 describes it with vivid word pictures. “He has made me grind my teeth on gravel,” he writes. “He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, ‘My splendor is gone! Everything I’d hoped for from the Lord is lost! The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss’” (vv. 16-20).
The writer pours out his feelings of hopelessness, but suddenly he changes his focus and reveals the secret for triumphing over despair…“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’ The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord” (vv. 24-26).
No matter how dire our circumstances appear or how God-forsaken we feel, we can hang onto this assurance: God still loves us. His faithfulness is great. His mercy tank is freshly-filled every morning. He’s good…no, He’s wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek His face.
The enemy of our souls desperately wants us to believe otherwise, but let’s not entertain his lies. Rather, let’s focus on the same truths that brought renewed hope to the author of Lamentations. Let’s dare to hope that those truths about God’s unfailing love are real, alive, and relevant to us today. Let’s speak words of life into our disappointments and hurts – “I acknowledge my pain and brokenness, but in the midst of it, I place my hope in the Lord.” And let’s seek God’s face by reading His Word, listening to worshipful music, and practicing His presence moment by moment. Having done these things, let’s wait with confident expectation for Him to restore our broken places.
Now it’s your turn. How do you overcome discouragement?