Hope, Even in the Long Dark Night
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:21-26
It is difficult, when the darkness threatens to overwhelm, to believe the light will ever shine again. When in jail, in treatment, in a broken relationship, or with any agonizing loss – particularly if it is our fault – it is hard to believe that life will ever be better. In our despair, we see our present condition with finality. I made this mess and now I must live in it for the rest of my miserable life.
The Israelites found themselves in this condition in today’s passage. Having wandered from God’s will for years, they pushed God’s patience to an end as he allowed his people to be conquered and taken captive by the Babylonians. The book of Lamentations is exactly that, a lament for what once was. Out of that mourning though, comes today’s beautiful passage, expressing hope in God. Even in their darkest hour – or perhaps particularly in their darkest hour – there were those who turned to God and dared to hope in him.
This is hope: Despite my miserable circumstances, I can know joy, peace and life, if I will seek God. The hope described in the passage was not simply waiting for circumstances to improve someday. This hope was something God’s people could experience even in their captivity if they would seek him. The Israelites certainly desired a return to their land, but that would not happen for many long years. Still, they could know hope and life, even in their captivity. In seeking God, their joy was independent of their painful circumstances.
When in the long dark night, even though we look for the sunrise, we do not need to wait for it to find light. God is with us in the darkness and will always light our way when we turn from our path to follow his.