The Bible is a book about joy. About peace. About security. But it is also a book about sadness. And because it is, the Bible gives us permission to be sad as it is full of laments. In its honesty, time and time again God’s Word shows us the example of people who were truly, genuinely, deeply sad. Psalm after psalm depicts people in the midst of trying and heart-wrenching circumstances pouring out their hearts to the Lord. There’s an entire book, for goodness sake, called “Lamentations.”
Yes, the Bible gives us permission to be sad, but it also doesn’t leave us there; even in the midst of our sadness, the Bible shows us the pathway to hope. Take just one section in that book called Lamentations:
“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 new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:19–26).
These verses, written at one of the darkest times in Israel’s history, when foreign armies had invaded and destroyed the temple of the Lord and the people were being carried off into captivity, it’s no wonder that Jeremiah’s soul was downcast within him.
Even so, even in these darkest of days, there was a pathway to hope.
1. Remember God’s character.
Ultimately, hope is not found in our circumstances. Despite what we might want to believe, there is no guarantee that our present situation will change at all, much less get any better.
To find hope, we have look to something better and more stable than our present circumstances—we have to look to God and his character.
We have to remember his love. His mercy. His compassion. And we see all those things on display most clearly not in our circumstances, but at the cross of Jesus Christ.
2. Look around you.
True enough, it is most often our circumstances that cause us to lose hope. But if we look a little deeper we will see evidences of God’s faithfulness and new mercies with each passing day. These are things that often go neglected, but they are nevertheless reminders of God’s enduring compassion.
The sun still rises. The seasons change. We have moments of joy and laughter. And to a greater extent, every molecule of the earth and the universe is still held together.
These things, though they might seem commonplace, they are still pointers to God’s new mercies, and part of the pathway to hope is taking notice of them.
3. Look to the future.
Having reflected on the character of God and having taken a close look around him, Jeremiah turned his gaze to the future. When we look to the future, we see that there will indeed be a day when things will be different. Salvation is coming. So is justice. So is redemption. True enough, we might not see these things come to pass in our own circumstances or even our own lifetimes, but with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. These things are coming, and so the way of hope is to wait patiently and quietly for the Lord to bring them about in His own time.
Remember God’s character. Look around you. Look to the future. This is the way of hope, and hope like this does not disappoint us because it’s not grounded in circumstantial change. It’s grounded in something better.
This article originally appeared on thinke.org and is reposted here by permission.