“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:24 ESV
The book of Lamentations has been credited to the prophet Jeremiah. The original name of the book in Hebrew is Ekah, which is translated “Alas!” or “How!” However, giving Jeremiah’s continuous weeping or lamenting over his circumstance and the impending destruction of Jerusalem the name of the book was changed by Bible translators to Lamentations to remain consistent with the primary theme of the book.
The melancholic mood of Lamentations does not undermine the message of hope it contains. Despite the anguish of Jeremiah over the wretched condition in Jerusalem and it impending destruction by the Babylonians, Jeremiah found hope. That hope sustained Jeremiah and helped him to endure the hostility he experienced for preaching an unpopular message and prophesying doom and gloom instead of peace and prosperity.
Many people are angry, disappointed, and perplexed by Breonna Taylor’s grand jury decision. The overall mood among the people in my social circle is that of hopelessness. That sense of hopelessness has become too difficult to shake off by those who feel marginalized and oppressed.
What does it mean to choose hope? As a black father, husband, and church leader, I often feel like Jeremiah. I lament the emotional pain and anguish of many black and brown people who feel marginalized, oppressed, and despised because of their race and ethnicity. I weep for the victims of police brutality. As a father, I grieve over the fact that my children are growing up in a country where their blackness is despised and their humanity is reviled.
Yet I choose to hope that someday America will live up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and treat every citizen justly. Even though the socio-political climate of this country is acrimonious I choose to hope that these United States of America will remain one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I choose hope because of the growing number of white, black, and brown people who are protesting against injustice and inequality across this country.
In today’s text, Jeremiah finds the strength to choose hope instead of despair because of his faith and trust in God. He laments his affliction and his wandering, the bitterness and the gall he experienced (Lamentation 3:20). Nevertheless, he maintains, because the Lord’s compassion is renewed every morning, I have hope.
I have hope because God will not allow darkness to eclipse His light. While I lament the fact that most black and brown people worry about being profiled while driving or shopping or just living life, I have hope that we shall overcome someday. I choose hope because I cannot allow this world to take away my God-given joy. I refuse to surrender the peace that I have in Christ Jesus to wicked men and women who want to turn back the clock to the time of slavery.
More importantly, I choose hope because of the resurrected Christ who gave me authority over powers and principalities. Racism, discrimination, oppression, and economic injustice are principalities that we can defeat in the name of Jesus. No matter how overwhelming the challenge we face to help the poor, the oppressed, and downtrodden in this country, I have hope that we shall overcome. That hope may seem irrational and baseless in light of the decision from the grand jury for the Breonna Taylor’s murder case. Indeed, to my brothers and sisters who feel defeated, broken, afraid, dejected, and hopeless, I challenge you to remember that the Lord is your portion, therefore, you shall hope in him. Remember that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
So go ahead and mourn for Breonna Taylor, Rashad Brooks, Daniel Prude, George Floyd, Attatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Michelle Cusseaux, Freddie Gray, Janisha Vonville, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson, and hundreds more that have been killed by police. Say their names and remember the anguish of their loved ones. But, do not mourn as people without hope. Keep hope alive!
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please encourage those who feel hopeless and defeated. Remind them that you are a God of justice who will not allow the wicked and their wickedness to triumph over your righteousness.