“He has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness…
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones…
I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
the object of their taunts all day long.
He has filled me with bitterness;
he has sated me with wormwood.
He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is…
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
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.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord…
For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men…
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?..
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands
to God in heaven…
I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’
You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.” Lamentations 3:5-9,14-17,19-26,31-33,38,40-41,55-58
In the invisible under the dirt, all is closed in, dank, and fruitless. But here, hunger and destitution and darkness do their work. Could it be any worse? Is there no hope? Well I ever breathe freely again? Does God hear? In these places of impossibility, God’s attributes are revealed, His ways are learned, and fresh mercies await. Bitter with affliction, bereft of peace, there are true truths we can call to mind that stoke God’s steadfast love. Our place of pleading becomes a greenhouse for hope. (Jonah 2:1-9; 2 Corinthians 12:9)
In waiting, and through grief, God’s compassion flourishes. In spiritual and relational hunger, He is magnified as our Portion. Every divinely-controlled atmosphere of sorrow and season of seeking affords new insights into His purposes, and time to examine our ways. Instead of resisting every hardship, would we ask what He intends to teach? How regularly do we recall past lessons, and look to learn again? Where have we experienced the Lord’s mercy or personal love that we could not have other than through tribulation? What fresh mercies, grace, and sincere love now bloom from us to others?
Gracious Father, cause me to grow and flourish in both the good and bad You’ve ordered for my life. Make me pure in the deepest places, and vibrant in praise of You.