One of Those Lives – Ruminations on Lamentations (not Ken Scholes’ book, the other one)

Did you ever have “one of those days?” Well, I’m having on of those months. Being laid off with no warning and no explanation on May 24 has just thrown me through a loop. The economy is horrible. The severance is about to run out. I had no anticipation and no sense of calling to move or leave but now must seek wisdom and answers. And it’s hard. It’s real hard. I apply and apply and, except for two, the replies are “job already filled” or “excellent and impressive resume, but you’re not what we’re looking for.”

If any Bible passage could describe how I’m feeling it’s Lamentations 3:

Lamentations 3

1 [a] I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.

2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;

3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.

5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.

6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.

7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.

8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.

9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,

11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.

12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.

14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.

15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.

17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.

18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

Pretty hopeful stuff, huh?

I know, I’m supposed to have a positive outlook, have faith, trust the Lord, believe that He loves and wants the best for me and has a plan. I do believe that. The trouble is, He’s not telling me what all that is and I don’t like being in limbo and not know how we’re going to eat at the end of this month. It’s a scary place to be, especially since I spent most of 2003 out of work. The difference is, this time we have three pets, I’m married, and my retired parents are in no position to help out.

See? I need the Lord more than ever so where is He? The Bible tells us He’s there, in the midst of our sorrow, but I’m struggling to feel it.

Of course, as anyone who’s read Lamentations 3 knows, I can only wallow in the self-pity and hopelessness decribed by those first verses so long. Only until I read on and come to this:

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.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

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.

Wow! Do I feel like a chump now or what? I mean, God is faithful. I’ve sung the hymn based on this song so many times I know it by heart. In fact, we scheduled it at planning session today for this Sunday. “His compassions are new every morning.” Wow! “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him” Wow! “Great is Your faithfulness” Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect to be perfect. I don’t expect to be sinless. I don’t expect to never have trouble. That said, I also have walked with God for over 30 years now. I’ve walked with Him through periods where I could feel His presence so strongly it was like another human walking beside me. I’ve walked with Him through periods where I knew He carried me, where I heard His voice in my ear, where I never thought I’d ever be, let alone find Him. And God has been good to me. A good family, good income for the past seven years, ministry opportunities around the world, good songs which people like and sing in churches and languages I’m not even aware of. He’s blessed me. But here I am wallowing in Lamentations 3: 1-18, one of the most optomistic (NOT) passages of the Bible.

Why do I say this? Because so many of you have also had times when it felt like “one of those lives,” and from the midst of it, it’s not only hard to see God’s presence, it’s hard to see the way our or believe you’ll ever see His presence again. But I am here in the midst telling you that I have faith, trust the Lord, believe that He loves and wants the best for me and has a plan. And I know He’s here in the darkest depths and I know He’s picking me up right now when I can’t walk any more. I believe that and so should you because He doesn’t love me any more than He loves you. He loves us both same.

So whether it’s “one of those days” or “one of those lives,” He’s with you. Even in the midst of great despair as I am now. He’s with you, He cares, and He has a way out planned, so lean on Him, let Him carry you and get ready for one amazing ride.

For what it’s worth…

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