It moves silently through the night, inches up close without making a sound, and suddenly (usually between 2 and 4 a.m.) it peels back the cozy covers of sleep and rouses you awake with a start. Worry is like that. You can be snoozing and comfortably happy and suddenly it pounces on you—destroying your best hours of sleep!
I hope you don’t think that I’ve conquered the worry battle, because fear can still sneak up on me and take me into a dark spiral before I know what hit me. But thankfully, I’ve learned to recognize it more quickly than I used to, and also have had enough experience with it to know that if I don’t battle it, it will only take me deeper into a very bad place.
Worry’s pit of despair is not a place I enjoy visiting.
I thought it might be encouraging for you to walk through a passage with me that God has used to train me in battling fear.
I hope you’ll pull out your copy of His Word and join me in looking at Lamentations 3:17–26.
This chapter begins with the sobering introduction: “I am the man who has seen affliction . . .”
Can you relate to that?
I’ve been walking through some tough terrain with several precious loved ones these past few weeks.
If you are breathing, you are probably experiencing some form of loss or affliction. One of our loved ones is facing serious medical issues, a dear friend is caring for several family members in the hospital, another is struggling with deep loneliness and depression, and one of my friends has just been deserted by her husband. Everywhere we look people are hurting; walking through affliction. As long as we walk this fallen earth that will be the case—much sorrow, pain, and toil.
Affliction is a common reality.
Listen to what Jeremiah says (that’s who I believe authored Lamentations) as he goes on to describe his emotional state:
[box]“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is . . .” (v. 17)[/box]
Ever been there? Jeremiah is low, low, low. No peace, no happiness, not even a memory of what it feels like to be happy. He sounds deeply depressed. Can you relate?
He also sounds weary.
[box]“My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” (v. 18)[/box]
Remember Corrie ten Boom’s quote that I shared with you last week?
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Worry will wear you down. It zaps you of all strength. It destroys your commitment to persevere.
Worry is fueled by fear and it robs me of hope.
Worry is the silent hope-killer.
Did you hear Jeremiah’s admission? He had lost the ability to endure. He was whipped. He was unable to stand under the affliction any longer because he’d lost all hope. While focused on the terrifying conditions he was facing, his hope evaporated and he was left paralyzed in defeat.
But Jeremiah knew the secret for recovering hope.
Notice what he says in verse 21: “But this I call to mind . . .”
Remember the spiritual battle that I’ve mentioned we’re engaged in? The one where we must bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ? That is what we’re about to witness Jeremiah doing.
Watch what Jeremiah does when he realizes the low point he’s reached:
[box]But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21–23)[/box]
Jeremiah is turning his thoughts from the loss he’s experiencing, the painful affliction he and his beloved Israel are enduring, and he intentionally sets his mind on truth. He sets his heart on the steadfast love of God.
That is exactly what I had to do this week. Daily. Continually.
I had to pull out this passage and deal with it. I preached these truths to myself. I reminded myself that God’s steadfast love never ceases. I’ve seen it, experienced it, and benefitted from it.
God’s steadfast love is something that cannot be denied.
I have continually experienced God’s mercy and Jeremiah reminds us that His mercies are unending and new every morning.
Then we reach the pivotal moment in Jeremiah’s journey from despair to restored hope. Don’t miss this:
[box]“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” (v. 24)[/box]
Bottom line in abolishing worry is to remember that the Lord is our portion.
When I remind myself that “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (SOS 2:16), I’m infused with real hope. The God of the universe, the redeeming Savior, He is my portion! I am His and He is mine.
Think about that for a moment. Don’t let the significance of that truth be lost on you. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, if you are His—that reality is enough to fill you with hope.
Jeremiah encourages the reader to wait for the Lord, to seek Him, in verse 25. When I focus on the lovingkindness of God and remember that He pursued me and is faithful and merciful—hope floods my weary heart and I’m renewed to face the affliction with perseverance.
Are you weary with worry today? Has a painful affliction robbed you of hope for the future?
How can I pray for you?
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