Monday, December 31, 2012

what jeremiah can teach us about new years

'the days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when i will make a new covenant with the house of israel and with the house of judah.'  
{jeremiah 31:31}

those words were the prophecy of christmas.  he may not have known exactly what God's entrance into this world would look like but jeremiah knew long before the rest of us that jesus was coming.  
{artwork by marc chagall}
jeremiah is sometimes referred to as the weeping prophet.  

i may or may not be referred to as the weeping mother.  
it's no secret...i cry a lot.  sometimes tears of joy...sometimes tears of sorrow.  even though my face is tear-stained on a regular basis, i definitely don't claim to be the same caliber weeper as jeremiah.  the guy is in a league of his own.  after all...he was carrying the weight of a nation on the brink of complete destruction.

most scholars agree that the book of lamentations was written by jeremiah.  the name of the book is fitting...if you've read any part of it you know what i mean.

streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. 
{lamentations 3:48}

jeremiah was a poet and the book of lamentations is a collection of his poetry.  it has been said of jeremiah that he 'spiritualized and individualized religion and insisted upon the primacy of the individual's relationship with God.' (the new bible dictionary, 2nd edition)  he did this by words, but he also did this by example.  thousands of years ago before anyone had said of christianity- 'relationship, not religion' - jeremiah was living out that charge.

if you know God - and i mean really know God - you will find yourself moved to's inevitable.  having a personal relationship with someone means opening up the deepest parts of yourself to them.  it also means caring enough to discover their depths too. anyone who dives into the depths of God and allows him into their own secret places experiences something that can't be put into words but can only be experienced... experiences like that evoke emotion.  

in jeremiah we see intense emotion.

another thing we know about any relationship is that communication is, honest communication.  through jeremiah's words we see his desperate need to communicate with his heavenly father.  much of what God communicates to jeremiah is meant to be shared with the people of israel.  after all - that's a prophet's job description.  but don't miss the fact that much of jeremiah's conversation with the Lord is very personal.  jeremiah shares his struggles and emotions and allows the promises of God to be spoken back to him.

i think lamentations {chapter 3 in particular} is a good place to start the new year and here's why...
jeremiah penned line after line outlining the despair of a nation but tucked in between the desperate cries for help and the descriptions of darkness is the light of hope...for those who would return to the Lord.  despite a world raging out of control around him jeremiah manages to anchor himself and the future of his people in the promises of God's goodness and faithfulness.  

he speaks of hope.
he speaks of faithfulness.
he speaks of new.

i don't know about you but i, like jeremiah, have seen a lot of darkness and heartbreak in the world around me this year.  i've seen a lot of miracles too.  through the highs and lows i have sought the One who holds it all together.  lamentations is a vivid picture of a man who is riding that same roller coaster of life and is gripping tightly to the one relationship he knows he can count on...i want that kind of desperate dependance this new year.

i remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
i well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
yet this i call to mind
and therefore i have hope:

because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed

for his compassions never fail.
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
i say to myself, 'the Lord is my portion;
therefore i will wait for him.'
{lamentations 3:19-24}

my friends...
i am praying His hope and faithfulness will be your anchor as you navigate the waters of this new year...whatever they may bring.  
i am praying you will daily remember the promise that His concern for you and your suffering is renewed every morning.  
i am praying that instead of watching Him from afar you would enter into a relationship with the living God whose love is great and whose promises are always fulfilled.

 may your new year