Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, has a lot to teach us about hope.
"My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord...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. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him." Lamentations 3:18-25.
Jeremiah begins this passage lamenting the loss of everything dear to him. He has not received what he expected from the Lord, but by the end of this passage hope has replaced bitterness and despair. What transforms Jeremiah's perspective? His circumstances have not changed in that period of time. The difference is that Jeremiah's outlook has changed from hoping for something from the Lord to hoping in Him.
Placing hope in the Lord is a decision, an act of faith. After voicing his despair, Jeremiah chose to remember what he already knew about God. He knew what God had promised and he knew what God's character was like, so he focused on these instead of his circumstances. The Scripture above contains more than a description of God's faithfulness. It is a stark testament of faith in the midst of complete despair.
Hope does carry certain emotions, but placing hope in the Lord is an act of the will in faith. Learning to place our hope in the Lord in this way is not easy. This may be especially true when we are grieving the loss of a child. When Jeremiah says, "The Lord is my portion," he is saying the it is God who is sustains and satisfies him, even in the midst of despair. When we recognize this it frees us from needlessly pursuing things we want Him to give us or do for us. We are challenged to believe that relationship with God is more satisfying than anything else. As Jeremiah, we too need to discover the crucial difference between hoping for something from God and hoping in God.
Another important lesson Jeremiah learned was to live one day at a time. This is an art I too need to learn. The fact that the same burden (grief) will have to be carried tomorrow gets us down sometimes and we forget His daily presence and promise of His daily mercies. When tomorrow comes and we must continue to carry some of the same burdens we have carried for years, from which we may only gain a short relief, we may ask, "Does the road wind up hill all the way?"... and that prospect may depress us. But if the road does wind up hill all the way God promises not to forsake us. His mercies and compassions are new every morning.
If there are new needs there will be new grace, new mercy, new comfort and new strength,
and that gives me hope!!