How the Downer Book of Lamentations Offers Us Hope Today

3 bits of good news from the character of God and the promises of God.

The book of Lamentations isn’t one we often read. Let’s be honest. It seems like a real downer. Jeremiah’s “lamentations” sting like the swat of a paddle. And yet—amazingly—there’s good news for us.

How the Downer Book of Lamentations Offers 3 Reasons to Hope

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Good news seems good usually because of the bad news that came first.

  • The bad news: Because Jerusalem had abandoned the Lord by pursing idols and foreign alliances, God had given over the city to the Babylonians, who disciplined Jerusalem by forcing most of its citizens into exile.
  • The good news: God’s divine discipline always comes as an expression both of His faithfulness and His love.

Amazingly, this downer book of Lamentations offers at least 3 reasons we can have hope in life.

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The Ultimate Earth Day Still to Come

Not long ago I walked down a country road and saw the spring leaves popping from the trees. Literally a week earlier the branches had nothing. One week! It got me to thinking.

The Ultimate Earth Day Still to Come

(Photo by By Tsibin Konstantin, panoramio, CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

All the potential for the trees to leaf lay hidden, dormant all winter, until something inside the trees awakened them from sleep. Life was there all the time, hiding behind death, until something cued it to resurrect.

If this is how the earth responds to the stimulus of spring every year, how much more potential lay dormant—awaiting the moment God removes the effects of fallen humanity from our planet? Talk about an Earth Day!

The Bible uses this truth to encourage us in our struggles.

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4 Promises of God to Give You Hope

There’s not much we can be sure of today. We live in a world of broken promises, broken families, backstabbing friends, and personal failures. And that’s just at church.

After a lifetime of disillusions, we’ve come to expect little else. We often hope for nothing in hopes we won’t be disappointed.

4 Promises of God to Give You Hope

(Photo: Tom Corser. Licensed under CCA ShareAlike 2.0 England & Wales, UK)

It’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of hopelessness. It happens because we live in an a culture that keeps God at arm’s length, one that claims His name but declines His Lordship.

God is a package deal. And when we refuse all of God then we miss all of what He has to offer. In refusing all of God we’re forced to fill those gaps with substitutes that disappoint and fail us.

But with God . . . ah, now that’s a worldview of a different color.

The Sovereign Lord, the Creator of the universe, offers true hope—and here’s why: He is the only one able to make good on His promises.

Here are 4 promises of God—cleverly disguised by the Apostle Paul as questions—that give you hope for your life.

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The Negev’s Sde Boker—The Lord Has Made Room for Us

It takes great vision to see something where there is nothing. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw the vast expanse of Israel’s Negev as something that offered great potential. In 1953, he settled in the kibbutz Sde Boker, urging Israelis to help him tame the Negev into a new society for Israel.

The Negev—At Last, the Lord Has Made Room for Us

(Photo: Sculpture garden at Sde Boker, by שי קסל CC-BY-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

To many, the idea seemed no more than a pipe dream. As a result, the plea fell on deaf ears, for the arid region receives barely eight inches of rain per year.

In the Negev, life has one uncompromising requirement: water. 

Through this simple need in the same land, God taught His people a life-giving lesson.

We can drink from it as well.

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Finding Hope in Jesus’ Transfiguration

Sometimes we need a good dose of hope and encouragement. We can get so obsessed with the weight of our cross that we forget Jesus showed us what lies beyond it. Today’s hardships can distract us from tomorrow’s hope.

Finding Hope in Jesus' Transfiguration

(Photo by Andrew Storms Happiness CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jesus’ Transfiguration wasn’t some sideshow He did one day for fun. It came at a point when the disciples desperately needed some hope.

Scripture records it to offer us the same thing.

Some hope when we need it most.

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Hope from the Upper Room and David’s Tomb

One of King David’s most poignant prayers came after one of his greatest mistakes. “Do not cast me away from Your presence,” he prayed, “and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).

King David Statue on Mount Zion

(Photo: Statue of King David on Mount Zion by “David’s Tomb”. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Pieces of Hebrew and Christian scripture come together in an ancient building on Jerusalem’s Western Hill. In this one small structure, events of history and tradition combine to offer the ultimate answer to David’s prayer.

In fact, the place offers hope for all of us.

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What Will Heaven Be Like? [Podcast]

Revelation 21-22

Jesus promised to prepare a real place for believers in His Father’s house. The new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem are described in Scripture as indescribable! Heaven’s occupants will both worship and serve forever and ever in the presence of the Lord who died for them.

In the meantime, believers should keep an eternal perspective and unbelievers should trust Christ without hesitation.

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God’s Next Big Event – The Rapture [Podcast]

1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Contrary to Hollywood, the next prophetic event isn’t the Antichrist or Armageddon. Believers are not due to experience wrath, but instead, Rapture from wrath! The Rapture of the church is imminent, instantaneous, and immortal.

Having this certain hope, believers should serve diligently while waiting . . . for we know that such service will be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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Hope . . . for What?

Every four years presidential hopefuls offer “hope” for the future that boils down to plain optimism. The elections reveal how our culture makes decisions: Go for image and emotion rather than substance and truth.

One candidate referred to “hope” as “God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; a belief in things not seen; a belief that there are better days ahead.” But on what basis is this hope built? Hope needs a basis of reality beyond wishful thinking. True hope finds its bedrock not what we want God to give us—but in what He has promised to give.

Like those in Jesus’ day, we long for heaven on earth here and now. We crave eternity’s blessings today, although has God expressly reserved them for tomorrow. Giving up on the hope of glory, we settle for trips to Disney World.

What has God promised? For starters, only God can “wipe away every . . . and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Revelation 21:4). Talk about hope! We struggle even to imagine such a state—a glory where we no longer toil and where our weary hope for paradise becomes a memory rather than today’s mere optimism.

Even though God requires that we put our hope in the next life, that doesn’t mean we stick our heads in the sand in this one. We have a responsibility to pray for our government and to impact our society for Christ. So we must vote. But our hopes are not in how the ballots tally. Life is all about God, remember, and not about us what He gives us.

So, our hope cannot rest in “better days ahead” promised by those who lack the power to give it. Let the brutal barrage of the political campaigns remind you of the futility of hope in this life—and the necessity of hope in heaven.

I like what George Palmer quipped shortly before he died: “I’m homesick for Heaven. It’s the hope of dying that has kept me alive this long.”

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No Shame On You [Podcast]

How God Deals with the Shameless and the Ashamed

No shame! The words describe two people: the shameless and the ashamed—those who flagrantly disobey God and those who feel the weight of His conviction. To each God has a different response. If you will turn to Him in spite of your shameful past, God has a promise:

In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds . . . I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. —Zeph. 3:11, 19

Let there be no shame on you—not because you are shameless—but because God has removed the sin.

Message from Zephaniah 3. 

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