What happens when the bottom drops out of your life? When you experience a great calamity like the loss of your home through a fire or a flood? Or suffer through an unwanted divorce, or worse, the death of a loved one who meant the world to you? What happens when you must undergo lingering, intense personal illness or pain that just won’t go away? Some lose their faith in God when they go through times like these. Others, however, find hope to endure, often discovering a deeper meaning to life as a result of their strong, deeply spiritual and moral convictions. These brave souls see the proof that God is alive and is compassionate during those terrible times, as He cares for their needs and purifies their character.
The great prophet Jeremiah stared into the abyss when the bottom dropped out of his life. He recorded what he saw and felt—and believed—in the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah lamented the horrid conditions of his people, the Hebrews, who had been carried off into captivity in Babylon because they had forsaken the Lord their God and turned their hearts to worship idols. Even though Jeremiah’s “eyes fail[ed] because of tears” . . . and his “spirit [was] greatly troubled” . . . and his “heart [was] poured out on the earth,” he still hoped in the Lord (Lamentations 2:11; 3:23–24). Amazing, isn’t it? The Message paraphrases Jeremiah’s words this way:
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.
(Lamentations 3:19–27 MSG)
So, let me ask you again: what happens when the bottom drops out of your life? According to Jeremiah, you feel like you’re eating ashes! But today, even with the bitter taste of poison on your tongue, Jeremiah declares that you can turn to the Lord and find a renewed strength and a confident hope, remembering that His merciful love is created anew every morning.