Over the past few months, I've been going through a season of anxiousness and unrest in my soul as I seek to find a balance between time for meaningful relationships at home and church while balancing the heavy demands of my job. Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you're in a different season of stress. I was reading back through one of my old journals the other day and found this entry that I wrote as a stay at home mom of two little toddlers: "My house is a wreck. I'm never caught up. I feel like I'm sinking in this mess. I hope I can remember this feeling as I look into homes of young moms when my children are older." Yeah, I remember.
Regardless of the exact circumstances, many of us share in experiencing seasons of anxiousness, stress, and depression, leaving us hungry for peace, rest, and comfort. A few weeks ago, at a particularly low point, I heard a godly young man talk about one of his struggles and how he used verses from God's Word to battle his challenges. (God's Word is referred to as a sword several times in the Bible, such as in Ephesians 6:17 for instance.) Taking this to heart, I've been exploring what our Lord said about peace and joy.
One passage that has particularly stood out to me so far came from a place I didn't expect. The book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah, is about sorrow. In fact, the word "lament" used in this book means to weep, such as at a funeral. So, it is the last place I would have thought to look for verses on peace and joy. But the riches of God's words to us often surprises me.
Here's what I found. Jeremiah presents a long accounting of the excruciating circumstances he is enduring both personally and as a member of the nation of Israel. He is in anguish as he writes:
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
I read these words one day when I was feeling particularly low and thought, "Wow! Jeremiah gets it." Here is this messenger of the God of the heavens, but he still feels the anguish of life that strangles his peace and happiness, and threatens to extinguish his endurance and hope. "My soul...is bowed down within me." Powerful words.
But Jeremiah doesn't stop there. He goes on to say: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:"
I've heard this verse thousands of times and even sung it as a hymn of praise. Yet I never realized the context of these encouraging words. In essence, Jeremiah says, this is what I hang on to when I'm feeling at the end. This is what helps me take the next step, breathe the next breath, settle my trouble-tossed soul: God's steadfast love and unending faithfulness. Not just today, but everyday. And not just everyday, but new every morning. We are blessed with a loving Father that continues to renew us daily. He never grows tired or weary of loving us and He is faithful to carry us, even when the days are dreary and burdened.
I'm thankful for these words. I'm thankful for the reminder of God's love and faithfulness. I'm thankful for God. I don't know how I would ever face the tough days without the peace He provides and the assurance of His love and unending faithfulness.
May your days be covered by the warmth of the Father's love.
As always, thanks for reading.