Read Lamentations Three
Memory is a complicated gift from the Lord. Our memories can serve to remind us of the best times in our lives and the worst; they can sweeten our dreams and haunt us at night. Our memories shape and form us, even in unseen ways and in places we don’t want them to. We don’t have control over when memories come back to us or the way that certain smells or rooms or people incite vivid images in our minds. We can walk into a room and remember the way we felt on our first date with our now-spouse – nervous, giddy, excited, wondering. We can smell the perfume of a grandmother who has passed and remember going to her home on Easter Sunday for lunch. And the way we lay on our pillow at night can remind us of some of our greatest fears, and the terrors that accost us at night. Memory is powerful.
Today in the text we are going to see the power of memory. The next section of chapter three (we’ll remember that chapter three is naturally broken down into three primary sections) is all about memory.
Read Lamentations 3. Identify the three primary sections or movements in the chapter.
If you were to summarize the second section of the chapter (vv. 19-39), what would you say about it?
Israel as a nation lived by memory. This is the common thread throughout the Old Testament – looking back at what God had already done in their lives and all the promises He had kept, and looking forward with hopeful anticipation of His coming faithfulness. They remembered His deeds in the past as a way of reminding themselves that He was trustworthy with their current and future needs.
Read Lamentations 3:19-39 again. Mark every reference to memory. Include variations like “remember” or “call to mind.”
Here we see The Man of Suffering remember two categories of things. First, he remembers negative experiences (vv. 19-20). Though our English translations make it seem like he might be commanding God (in the imperative) to remember his suffering, the original Hebrew indicates that he is the one remembering. The infinitive, “to remember,” is used here and should give us the impression that he is reflecting on his past suffering.
What suffering is he remembering in verses 19 and 20?
Is there suffering in your life that you consistently call to mind? What negative memories haunt you?
Read Lamentations 3:21-22. What is his response?
We are going to look at the next movement of his memory in-depth tomorrow, but today let’s not miss this: our memories, no matter how dark they might be, are not more powerful than the steadfast love of the Lord. When our painful pasts threaten to undo us, we, like the Man of Suffering, can call God’s faithful, never-ending, steadfast love to mind, and cling to hope in response.
How does God’s steadfast love give you hope in the face of your negative memories?
PRAY & REFLECT
Is there an area of your past that haunts you? Do you have negative memories that you don’t know what to do with? Talk to God about it. Thank Him for His steadfast love. Ask Him to gird you with hope that results from knowing that He truly, deeply, unendingly loves you.