“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scottish tune by Robert Burns. The title literally means “times long past.” It is a song about reflection on the past – moving on but not forgetting. It is traditionally sung at New Year’s in our culture. Others sing the song at commencements and funerals. It recalls “the best of times” and “the worst of times,” so to speak.
In a similar fashion, the book of Lamentations is a good-bye to an era of faithfulness. It is a funeral song for God’s people as they are taken into captivity. Lamentations 1:12, 1:16, 2:16, 3:2-6 are all passages that illustrate the prophet’s despair at the loss of the city and the people he has worked with for his whole life. However, Lamentations 3:21-26 stands out as a beacon of hope amidst the doom. Though they endured much, and we may feel the same at times, God is the source of hope.
Comfort in God
- Mercy. In Psalm 136, the phrase is continually repeated, “For His mercy endures forever.” Through praising God as Creator and Deliverer, the idea of His mercy is visited time and again. In Luke 1:75-79, Zechariahs speaks of forgiveness and remission in the context of God’s mercy. Romans 15:8-9 glorifies God for His mercy in the sacrifice of His Son. Finally, Ephesians 2:4-5 reassures us of God’s rich mercy and great love despite ourselves.
- Hope. Hope is expressed numerous times in Psalms. Psalm 130:7 calls God’s people to hope in Jehovah because of His mercy. Psalm 31:24, Psalm 38:15, and many others return to the theme of hope. One sees and cares about our needs, and that is God. In I Thessalonians 5:8, we are told to wear hope as a helmet, Romans 8:24 says we are saved in hope. Hebrews 6:18 tells us we have a hope set before us in that we reach for something better than this life.
- Renewal. Jeremiah spoke of renewal in that God’s mercies are “new every morning.” We appreciate things that are “new.” II Corinthians 5:17 and 4:16 both speak of becoming new in Christ, our spiritual selves being renewed daily. In Colossians 3:10, we are told to put on a new self, not of the world but of Christ, and, in Ephesians 4:23-24, we are invited to be mentally renewed in putting on a new man that is fashioned after God.
- Faithfulness. The faithfulness in Lamentation speaks to God keeping His promises. In I Corinthians 1:4-9, Paul confirms that God is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23 assures us that we can be confidant in God’s word because of His faithfulness. Finally, I John 1:9 reminds us that God’s forgiveness is something we can rely on.
It’s hard to imagine just how difficult things were for Jeremiah. His nation fell despite his best efforts, and we run into situations where we feel like failures despite our best efforts. However, like Jeremiah, we can be continually renewed in God’s hope and mercy, trusting in His faithfulness as we seek God and His salvation.
lesson by Tim Smelser