I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splender is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD." I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are every morning; great is Your faithfulness... (Lamentations 3:17-23, NRSV)
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Have you ever been here?
In a place of affliction, misfortune, and wandering? A place where your present circumstance is more of an "ever-present" reminder than God's grace seems to be?
Times like these feel busy; full of things to accomplish, chaos to reorder, and missing pieces to regather. Your marriage feels like a wreck. Your home feels like a wreck. Your sense of purpose feels like a wreck. Your identity feels like a wreck.
And instantly, to the top of our to-do lists come everything needed to simply "make it" another day. Though our bodies are moving and working, our souls are as downcast - as low, tired, and unmoved - as ever.
Let's face it: We have all been there.
Some of us may be there...now.
And much like the writer, remembering our afflictions may feel all-consuming. I mention this action verb because it is used multiple times at the beginning of today's passage, yet quickly replaced with the phrase "call to mind."
The difference between these two Hebrew words is transformative.
The word for "remember" means to name, mention, or make known. In this action, we simply bring into words - or thoughts - the state of our situation. We name things as bad, unchangeable, or terrible. We mention and make them known them over and over in conversations with God, with others, and - let's face it - even with ourselves.
This growing state of remembrance can become negative for our hearts - for it is the feeder of bitterness and despair. Why? Because in our already limited perception, we tend to become selective with what our eyes see and what our minds name.
Good is not gone, it's unnoticed. Grace is not absolute, it's overshadowed. And God is not absent, He is overlooked. In our remembering, we choose to mention only half of our situation.
But like today's writer, we must do the hard discipline of "calling to mind."
This word, believe it or not, is very different than remembering. Instead of naming or mentioning what is, "calling to mind" means turning back to what remains. As I look into this Hebrew phrase, it is not focused on the present, but instead, an underlying belief or truth that was, is, and will always be. Sounds familiar, right?
You see, "calling to mind" takes us out of our present-time while causing us to be ever more connected to the real present-time. We focus not on naming our faults, but on restoring our focus.
And like today's writer, "this [we] call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed..."
There is much to remember, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it. There is much going on that feels distracting, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it. There is much falling apart, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it. And there is much unanswered, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it.
His compassions never fail. As certain as the morning sun is the coming of His grace. A promise that we should all call to mind, refocus upon, and be restored by is God's great faithfulness.
Today, choose to move beyond dull remembrance. Instead, refocus your heart on His character. For He is present; loving compassionately, offering grace upon grace, and extending mercy all around you.
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Greg, Declare Glory
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