No matter how bad things get, they can always get worse.
I know, that’s a pretty dark statement. Yet that fact smacked me right across the face just the other day as I read a post I had written on my personal website at the beginning of 2017.
Before I go on, and to hopefully keep your reading, allow me to share a little spoiler; there is hope. No matter how dark it gets, there is hope. Now back to my story.
As 2016 ended I wanted to share something that would provide a little hope, comfort, joy even. So I searched for the scripture that talked about God’s mercies being new every morning. I had forgotten that it was from the Old Testament book of Lamentations.
You see, at that time 2016 seemed to have been just a dreadful year. One that everyone was glad to see come to an end. There had been dozens of terrorist attacks around the world. Great Britain had been through an acrimonious vote to leave the EU. In the U.S. we had been through an even uglier presidential campaign and election. Scores of beloved public figures had passed away.
In my personal life I grieved with my brother as his wife of 37 years passed away. Yes, 2016 was a year we were happy to put in the rearview mirror and we looked forward with hope and anticipation to 2017. As I closed that blog entry I wrote, “It seems unlikely that 2017 will see more of the same type of surrealistic messes visited upon us in 2016.”
I had severely underestimated the potential of bad to get worse.
In February of 2017 my wife, Teri, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In September my 21-year-old nephew, son of my brother whose wife had died the previous year, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. And then in October my father died. 2017 had become one hellacious year.
And yet, there was and is still, hope.
I shared in that post from the third chapter of Lamentations. That Old Testament book is aptly named. It is 5 chapters of largely dark, dirge-like, almost hopeless poetry bemoaning the state of Israel and her people. It was written in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C. My guess is that was a year that the ancient Israelites were happy to see end.
There is precious little of hope in this book of Lamentations, with the exception of that middle chapter. After berating himself and his situation, and coming to the realization that most of the pain and suffering the people had experienced were brought on by their own doing, the author states, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.’”
I have learned my lesson when it comes to predicting how much pain, evil and tumult a year may hold. Even after the dumpster fire that was 2020 I dare not say that 2021 cannot be any worse. It can be. I hope that it will not be, but the possibility certainly exists.
Instead I will rest assured that the Lord is my portion, His mercies and lovingkindnesses, are new every morning and His compassions never fail. And in that I, we, can have hope in Him.
Happy New Year,