New Beginnings: A devotional on Lamentations 3

"We do know the Author, we have the hope of knowing how the story ends, but we’re living in the tension of the present day and that requires processing through, with Jesus, all that comes along with living in the story and not just reading about it."

Lamentations 3:23 “His mercies are new every morning.” Nearly everyone who has attended church at some point in their lives knows this verse. It’s rightfully powerful and speaks to our human need to know that we can have a fresh start. There is something about new beginnings that resonates in every human heart:, a chance to make everything different, a “do over”. A new beginning engages hope. But if we don’t read the verses prior to this one, we’re missing the essence of what this well known scripture is meant to convey.

 One of the things we hear so often at Freedom Reigns, especially from our young adult participants is how they gave up on God because at some point in their interaction with Christians, what they were dealing with and feeling was minimized so significantly that their translation of hearing about hope was so dismissive that it led to the false belief that following Jesus meant denying the reality of your circumstance.
 My heart breaks when I hear these stories because I know it breaks the heart of Jesus. Yes, we need to work THROUGH our pain and not stay camped out in it. No, our identity is not a diagnosis or a label society throws on us. But these things are real, and how it affects each individual person is real. 

God made us with emotion. Jesus exhibited the full range of human emotion in His time here on earth. Author Peter Scazzero so poignantly writes “To minimize or deny what we feel is a distortion of what it means to be image bearers of a God. To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves well. Why? Because our feelings are a component of what it means to be made in the image of God. To cut them out of our spirituality is to slice off an essential part of our humanity.” In fact, if we minimize to the point of dismissing the reality of pain, grief, anxiety, fear, sadness, and doubt those things will inevitably become an “Achilles heel” and an opportunity for an unhealed wound to be ripped back open with greater intensity in the future. We need to process those things WITH Jesus is to honor how He made us.

 With today being the start of a new year, it’s a natural turning of a page in a new chapter; or perhaps with the way 2020 was you’re just starting a whole new book! It is an opportunity to have fresh hope. I think if we admit it, many of us excitedly turned the page but have some level of hesitation with what this new one holds, and that’s okay. We do know the Author, we have the hope of knowing how the story ends, but we’re living in the tension of the present day and that requires processing through, with Jesus, all that comes along with living in the story and not just reading about it. 
My encouragement to you today is to read the full chapter of Lamentations 3. Dare to engage Jesus in your story as you live out and experience this year with Him. Allow the emotions you experience to bring you into deeper conversation with Him know that He “gets it” and is glad to help you learn His heartbeat in the process. That is what true hope looks like. 
17 Peace has been stripped away,
 and I have forgotten what prosperity is. 
18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
 Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost…” 20 “….I will never forget this awful time,
 as I grieve over my loss.
 21 Yet I still dare to hope
 when I remember this: 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
 His mercies never cease.
 23 Great is His faithfulness;
 His mercies are new every morning.” 

Lamentations 3:17-23

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