TO CHEW ON: "'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him!'" Lamentations 3:24
Writer, singer Carolyn Arends told this story on a 2010 Christianity Today webinar on worship:
"On July 12th my dad passed away and I was very, very sad and still am. My husband and I speak together at family camps and we were right in the middle of speaking at this camp. We went home for a day to see my Mom and cry together, and then she said, "I really think you need to go back and finish speaking at that camp."
At first I thought, How am I ever going to do that? I'm too sad. But it turned out to be such a gift because each day of that camp for about three hours I had this opportunity to formally affirm all the things that I know to be true about God's character — about His goodness, about His trustworthiness, about His provision for us. That was such a gift to me in my grief. It didn't take it away, but it reminded me that we do not grieve as those who have no hope and that we never mourn alone." (Webinar no longer available online.)
Focusing on God seems to be what Jeremiah is telling the beleaguered citizens of Judah to do here. In a turnaround so abrupt it practically gives us whiplash, he goes from dwelling on his desperate state, to reminding himself—and his hearers—of a vital fact: We have God, therefore we have hope.
He calls God his portion, a word commonly used to describe one's set-aside amount of food. How do we take God as our portion?
I think of it as meditating on and claiming for myself that aspect of God that relates to my specific problem. For example, if I'm experiencing injustice, I recall God's ability to see any situation realistically and to mete out justice for me in it. If it's illness or physical injury, I review the stories of healing in the Bible and meditate on God's ability to restore health—that sort of thing.
Jeremiah goes on to give other reasons it makes sense to trust in God—more flavours of that portion if you will:
1. It's good to experience God's "yoke" or constraint when we're young (it's implied that such experience matures and makes men and women out of us) (Jeremiah 3:25-27).
2. Problems don't last forever. God's merciful nature will eventually cause Him to show compassion (Jeremiah 3:31-33).
3. Nothing can come into our lives without God's knowledge or permission (Jeremiah 3:37-38).
Whatever you or I are facing today, let's claim God as our hope. Let's recall who He is. Let's remember His faithfulness to us. Let's make Him our portion.
PRAYER: "Dear God, thank You that You are big enough for every one of my problems. Help me to understand this at a heart / life level. Amen.
MORE: Store up for hope before trouble strikes
It's a good idea to prepare ahead for times of trouble. One of the ways we can do this is by familiarizing ourselves with God and His attributes and ways in the good times, before tragedy strikes. Knowing God by J. I. Packer is an excellent book to read in this regard.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.