Something that I love about the Bible is how alive it is. Every time I open God’s Word, something jumps off the page and speaks to me in a new way. It wasn’t always like this for me, but lately I’ve just been more aware of how loud His voice can sometimes be.
For the past two years, I’ve been reading through Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah. Just about a month and a half ago I finally finished. What a journey! Last week, I began wondering what God would have me read next. For some reason, Lamentations kept sticking out to me. I didn’t know why. After all, my life has been so pleasant lately, you know? Why would a book about LAMENTING be relevant to me?
I finally decided to start reading Lamentations the other day. I’m now on the third chapter and this morning, God just kind of hit me with something that I never fully understood or believed in before.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Surrounding these verses are accounts of how devastated the Israelites are. We are told of how women are eating their children, priests and prophets are being killed, and young and old are being slain (2:20-21). It’s not a pretty picture.
Yet these two verses explaining God’s love stand out. The phrase that I especially held onto was “we are not consumed.”
How could a people who are experiencing suffering and devastation and death say that they are not consumed?
The answer: their hope was in the Lord.
The Israelites experienced this time of pain and loss because of their sin against the Lord. The reason for this discipline was because God wanted His people to repent of what they’ve done and run back to Him. As their downfall is occurring, we see that they finally have put their hope back in their God. They are willing to be faithful once again.
And because of this renewed faith and hope in Him, it is as if they know they are truly free.
As I read this, it was as if God reached down and gently said to me, “YOU are not consumed either.”
It’s easy to think that the sin or anger or grief or bad habits in my life are all that I am. I am my sin. I am my hate. I am my perfectionism. I am my ignorance.
This is far from true! I am NOT consumed by any of those things. I am never too far gone from God that I cannot turn back. Like the verse says in Lamentations, His compassions are new every single morning. What an amazing God we have!
Something that I realized this morning is that satan does not have the upper-hand, although he likes for us to think otherwise. Even when satan is against me and I give in to temptation, I am not controlled. I have already surrendered to God’s unfailing love, and it covers me. Every day is another day to find rest and freedom in His arms.
This was news to me. Or rather, a wake-up call!
Likewise, you are not consumed when you put your hope in the Lord. His great love for you will keep you from straying. And if you do find yourself wandering away, His compassion and grace for you will never fail. Like the father of the prodigal son, He will RUN to you upon your return and celebrate.
You are more than your sin and your mistakes. You are more than your failures. They do not consume you or define who you are.
His love does.
The death of Moses was a pivotal time for the Israelites. Wandering through the desert for forty years on their way to the Promised Land, it’s no surprise they were deeply distressed upon the news of their leader’s death. After all, he was supposed to bring them there, right?
“Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.” (Deuteronomy 34:7-8)
There are several things we learn from these verses.
1) Moses died while he still had his strength.
Moses led the Israelites all those years but there was one among them worthy of finishing the job. Joshua was chosen to finally lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Joshua was courageous and trusted God (Exodus 17:10, Deut. 34:9, Joshua 3:1) while Moses was less than brave (Exodus 3:13, 4:1, 4:10). Joshua was immediately obedient (Joshua 3:1) and made sure he and the Israelites were putting God first, allowing Him to lead the way (Joshua 3:3, 24:15). He believed that God would work miracles (Joshua 3:5) and was “filled with the spirit of wisdom” (Deut. 34:9).
Moses was a great leader, but God had another in mind. In order to finish the job, he had to make way for Joshua.
Likewise, we suffer from loss in our lives very unexpectedly. When it seems like everything’s going great and there’s even better things to come, God eventually throws a curve ball in our lives. This isn’t too harm us or purposefully cause us or others to suffer. Sometime it is just to make way for better things.
2) The Israelites grieved for Moses for thirty days.
Why is this significant? Because during the time period of the Israelites’ wandering, traditional mourning lasted SEVEN days, NOT thirty. This implies that the loss of Moses was especially painful and especially dramatic.
We all suffer in our lives, some more than others. Sometimes we can’t help but mourn and weep for our losses. Change can be especially difficult to deal with. The Israelites depended on Moses for so many years. What were they to do now that he was gone?
3) The Israelites remained in place “until the time of weeping and mourning was over.”
It’s understandable that we are afraid of the future or have no wish to press forward while we are hurting or mourning. However, the Israelites knew that they had to make a conscious effort to focus on what’s ahead and not let their sufferings hold them back. Instead of wallowing in their pain for forty more years, they CHOSE to listen to Joshua (Deut. 34:9) and followed him into new territory, closer to their destination, the Promised Land.
You may be struggling right now. You may be tired and hurt. You may not have a wish to move forward. You may be questioning why God would bring such pain into your life. One thing that must be remembered is that IT’S NOT OVER. Like the Israelites, a lot of us need to make a conscious effort to put our trust in God once again. We need to pack up our bags and continue walking towards the Promised Land. It’s so easy to wallow in pain, but God has other plans for us.
Give your struggles up to God and put your faith in Him. Expect a miracle.