Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Lament and Hope: Finding light in the Darkness, Great is Your Faithfulness

Through the Lenten season, we have been discussing the book of Lamentations. Next week is Palm Sunday. We will turn from Lamentations and focus on Jesus’s journey to the cross. Today, we will explore Lamentations Chapter 5. In this chapter, we will see God’s faithfulness even in our suffering. I hope you will be encouraged to trust in God’s steadfast love. Our faith gives us resilience. We find strength and hope in God’s promises. God may do a miracle that changes your circumstances. If not, God always provides the presence of Christ. We are comforted by the Holy Spirit. Knowing we are loved by God gives us resilience to endure the moment. God us the patience, perseverance and hope to wait and see what God has next for us.
What can Lamentations 5 teach us about hope and resilience?

Lamentations 5:2-3

Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We have become orphans and fatherless, our mothers like widows.

The people of Judah have seen the devastation of Jerusalem and the temple, but the initial devastation has passed, and they need to come to terms with a new life after the trauma and loss of their homeland. Their homes now belong to strangers and foreigners who took them over. They are now like an orphan who is fatherless and woman who is widowed. In that era, to be without a father or husband usually met that you would die, or life would be very difficult. The Law of Moses insisted on the care of widows and orphans for this reason.

“Like widows and orphans,” the passage speaks to the desperation felt by those in Judah. Without resilience, they would perish.

Lamentations 5:4

We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price.
The passage describes how the people of Judah must now buy the basics of life. Once, water was readily available and wood was plentiful. Now the invading army charges for water and wood. The basics of life are expensive and to get them they must use money they don’t have. To make matters worse, it’s perilous to approach the people who have water and wood.  They need to approach the enemy.

Here at Place of Grace, we serve people who can no longer get “wood and water.” They face financial hardship. They’re unable to provide for their family without the food bank’s help. When people find themselves unable to meet their needs because of health, hardship, job loss or any number of circumstances, it is easy to assume that God is gone.

Lamentations 5, and all of Lamentations tell us that God is not absent. In our struggle, we need to look to God. We need to cry out to God amidst our suffering. We are to hold onto a steadfast hope in the enduring presence of God. Despite feeling abandoned, God’s presence and guidance are unwavering. Faith in God will give us the resilience we need to endure the trials and traumas of our life.

Lamentations 5:5

Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest.
Have you ever felt so exhausted from life that it feels like there’s no rest in sight? The people of Judah felt pursued and relentlessly chased. The act of survival seemed beyond their capacity. They were worn out and weary. They had no rest.

What did they do? God’s people demonstrated resilience. The men of Judah found themselves doing menial labor.
Lamentations 5:13-14

Young men are compelled to grind,
and boys stagger under loads of wood.
14 The old men have left the city gate,
the young men their music.

With faith in God, they endured. Eventually, they spread across the Middle East and rebuilt their lives.

I want to interpret Lamentations 5 for us today using a story of Eduardo, a small cafe owner who lost his business.

Once the heart of the neighborhood, Eduardo’s café buzzed with life, laughter, and the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee. It was more than a business to Eduardo; it was a legacy, a gathering place that brewed community along with coffee. Then, without warning, the world shifted. The pandemic, a silent storm, swept through the streets, leaving Eduardo’s café in its wake. Eduardo continued to pay his bills with the pandemic relief funds, but the government’s lifeline dwindled as time passed. The once-familiar faces turned to the convenience of delivery services from chain restaurants. Eduardo started to panic. Eduardo’s prayers for revival seemed to echo back, unanswered.

In the quiet aftermath of closure, Eduardo found himself at a crossroads of faith and survival. Where was God in the silence? The café’s doors were locked, and his life’s work and livelihood were gone.

Eduardo’s story was far from over. The Food Pantry at the church down the street, Place of Grace Fellowship, provided a lifeline he never imagined he’d need. That became a turning point. Here, as he received the boxes of food he needed for his family, Eduardo discovered a level of resilience he never knew he possessed. As a small business owner, he’d had to meet challenges before, especially being in the restaurant business. But he’d relied on hard work, shrewdness and grit – and his charm.

Before the world turned upside down, Eduardo was known in his community as the cheerful café owner whose laughter filled the room as warmly as the coffee he brewed. To onlookers, his identity was intertwined with his business—Eduardo, the successful entrepreneur, whose life seemed as robust and satisfying as the aroma of his coffee. However, beneath the surface, Eduardo’s faith and character were untested, untried by the fires of adversity.

When calamity struck, the same onlookers who once praised him for his success now whispered of his downfall. Some argued he was defeated by circumstances beyond his control, but others wondered why he couldn’t steer the business through. The closure of his café wasn’t just a business failure in their eyes; it was Eduardo’s personal collapse.

It was under judgment and hardship that Eduardo’s true character emerged, supported by his faith in God. Eduardo discovered an inner resilience and clung to a deeper faith. As he navigated loss and an uncertain future, his faith became the anchor that held him steady, not the café that had once defined him.

Through the silence and struggle, Eduardo found purpose and identity not in what he did, but who he was in God. As he began to turn his life around, he took work as a short order cook. He had once employed others to work behind a hot griddle. He now found himself behind the same hot griddle at one of the chains that had put him out of business. Embracing humility, Eduardo donned an apron and worked his shift with his signature smile. His faith told him this was not the end of the road. Eduardo’s faith supported his resilience. On the outside, his efforts to rebuild seemed driven by his own strength. Yet, it was his faith that fueled his perseverance. In the dark uncertainty, he clung to James 2:26,

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

The passage became his prayer. It was a reminder that faith is lived through action. Each step forward, from accepting help to learning new skills, was a testament to his belief in God’s presence and plan. His journey was fueled with faith and action. He turned adversity into a pathway to renewal and purpose.

When he wasn’t working his shift, Eduardo swapped his apron for a learner’s curiosity. The local library’s computers, once foreign machines, became his new tools of trade. Night after night, he delved into the digital world, learning skills and tools like Excel spreadsheets, Canva designs, and AI.

As Eduardo’s digital knowledge grew, so did his understanding of how the world had changed. The loyal customers of yesterday were gone, and their patterns had shifted. In the process of learning, Eduardo realized his business had not faltered for lack of effort on his part. The marketplace had evolved, and he hadn’t adapted. The pandemic had brought this change about rapidly, but he had kept his faith in familiar patterns.

It was in this realization that Eduardo found his true calling. He decided to start a YouTube channel to teach other business owners how to survive in the digital age. At first, he used his videos to share personal reflections and bits of wisdom. His God-given gifts of charisma and warmth along with his old experience and new knowledge drew more and more followers. He enjoyed live streaming workshops where he could interact with his newfound community.

He eventually was able to leave his job as a short order cook and begin his new life helping small business owners better their businesses through technology and good business practices. He got an office in a coworking space. It wasn’t long until he was selling courses and doing speaking engagements, sharing strategies for success in a digital marketplace.

Looking back, Eduardo marveled at the way God provided him with the resilience to experience a devastating loss and find purpose beyond the café’s confines. His faith was tested by the world, and he was at a loss. In his weary state, he was tempted to resign to his fate. His time had passed; his success was behind him, he thought. Yet something inside him told him to keep going, and God guided him day-by-day to a new future.

Eduardo served knowledge instead of coffee and realized his true ministry. God had been there all along, in every setback, every late-night lesson, every step forward. Eduardo learned that resilience is not just surviving the storm but thriving in its aftermath.

God’s presence gives us resilience. Scripture tells us in Psalm 46:1:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

The Psalm shows us the power of Christ’s support in our lives. It reminds us that, no matter what we face, we are not alone. Our faith in God equips us to handle the trials of life, and faith transforms trials into growth and renewal. In God’s strength, we find the courage to face each day.

Scripture also tells us in Isaiah 40:31:

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

God in our lives is not only a source of comfort and refuge, but the foundation of our resilience and the source of renewed strength.

Lessons of Eduardo
Our faith gives us resilience: We all encounter moments of deep loss in our lives. Be encouraged. By leaning on our faith, we find the strength to endure and the resilience to rebuild.

God’s people keep going: We meet the challenges in life by moving forward knowing that God will be with us and will order our steps. We may need to make unexpected changes, but with the Holy Spirit, we can thrive in new ways and new places.

Christ brings new life: Believe in the power of Christ to renew and restore our lives. No matter the depth of our despair, Jesus Christ is with us, inviting us back, reviving our spirits and renewing our purpose.
In closing, let’s look at Lamentations 5:21 and John 6:44:

Lamentations 5:21

Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old.

John 6:44

No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.

In the cries of Lamentations, amidst profound grief and the starkness of desolation, there lies a glimmer of hope – a call to return to the Lord for renewal and restoration. This plea captivates the heart of God. Lamentations shows the profound journey of faith. It acknowledges our present trials while steadfastly holding onto God’s promise of renewal.

Our faith is a lifelong journey of growing in relationship with Christ. Our faith evolves and deepens through the challenges we face. We are called to see beyond our circumstances and trust in God’s provision. We must recognize that our identity and worth are not defined by success or failure but by our relationship with Christ. Our faith is not a shield against adversity but a wellspring of strength, resilience, and hope. Look forward to Jesus, and as John assures us, Christ will raise us up on the last day.
Prayer

Heavenly Father,

During life’s burdens, we seek Your face, yearning for the renewal and resurrection promised in Your Word. Lamentations reminds us of the deep faith You call us to—a faith that looks beyond our current struggles and anticipates the dawn of Your new creation.

Together, we ask for the strength to walk Your path of transformation, guided by Your grace, and empowered by our faith in You. Help us embody Christ’s love in every word we speak and every deed we undertake.

Lord, renew our spirits and refocus our hearts on the promise of resurrection that is our destiny. During trials and loss, remind us that we are never alone, for You are with us. Lead us back to Christ and forward to what You have prepared for us.

Give us the courage to embrace the journey ahead, trusting in Your unfailing love and the transformative power of Your grace. May we live out our days as a testament to Your goodness, bringing glory to Your name in all that we do.

Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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