The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3: 22-24
I woke up to a crash of thunder that shook my house and looked at the clock. The stark blue light was blinking 3:30. I start to hear the rain starting to fall so I ran over to my open window, pushed over the turning fan in my way, and force it closed. A few sharp drops pelted my bare arms and they stung, but the water just ran down onto the back of my hands. I tried to think of when I fell asleep. Midnight? One?
Then it comes back to me in that moment and I almost slipped down to my knees.
My dad was in the hospital. Hooked up to tubes and beeping machines, he was slowly recovering from his open-heart surgery.
He’s usually the one to warn us that a storm is coming, the one that closes the windows around the house himself. That’s why my window was open. He wasn’t there.
I thought about going to find my mom or my sister, but I knew they are both struggling to find their own sleep. I couldn’t find my phone in the darkness and then I realized that I really had no one to call.
Not for the first time that summer and honestly not the last, I felt absolutely and totally alone. That little voice from the world, the enemy, the one that feeds on darkness and bitterness and loneliness told me that I was.
The book of Lamentations in the Bible was a book I didn’t really want to spend time with. I thought it was long, drawn-out letter of broken hearts to the less than kind God of the Old Testament. The title means “funeral songs.” Scholars believe it was written by Jeremiah, the young prophet, to mourn the fall of Jerusalem. It is intended to deal with loss. We have all lost something in our lives, whether that be a loved one, an innocence, a romantic relationship, or a way of life. I’m young at only twenty years old, but I have experienced all of these.
The beginning of the first chapter in this book of the Bible states, “Bitter she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.” – Lamentations 1: 2
Reading those words, while the author was speaking of a nation, I saw this as a picture of a girl I knew all too well.
Most of the chapters in this book give an extensive list of suffering. But if we push through those hard lines, we get to the latter half of chapter 3 that produce an almost undeniable sign of hope.
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.” – Lamentations 3:25-27
So that night I started something that got me to fall asleep for most of the nights the rest of that summer.
I started thanking God for my circumstances.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
I started small with “Dear God, thank you for my pillow. Thank you for my blanket and my bed.”
It got a little bigger. “Dear God, thank you for my room. Thank you for the kitchen, the living room, my house.”
Then bigger. “Thank you for my Mom, my sister.”
And bigger. “Thank you that my dad is not dead, that I am not dead. Thank you for letting that boy break my heart. Thank you! Though I feel like I am dying, Lord, thank you that I am not.”
Paul writes his letter to the Philippians from a jail cell. It is probably one of the most encouraging and joyful books in the Bible, but it is written from the darkest and hardest place Paul has ever dwelled both physically and emotionally.
“Rejoice in the Lord always,” he writes. “I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7
It is hard to thank God when the circumstances of our lives aren’t proof of anything good. But if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and our portion, the Holy Spirit lives in us. When we start praising and worshipping the Lord—that is when we start feeling that beautiful peace from heaven, the one that truly surpasses all understanding.
About the Author:
Ellie Zumbach is currently a student at Malone University studying Creative Writing and Theatre. From a very young age, she has loved stories and their power to encourage, teach, and inspire. She is a proud member of a drama ministry team known as the Chancel Players and a co-director of the Writers Guild on campus. Welcome Ellie as she shares her words with “Memoirs of a Virtuous Woman” readers as an intern for Fall 2017.
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