But This I Call To Mind
Open Your Bible
Lamentations 3:1-33, Psalm 32:1-2
Text: Lamentations 3:1-33, Psalm 32:1-2
“My soul is bereft of peace.
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, ‘My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.’”
– Lamentations 3:17-18, ESV
“I have forgotten what happiness is…” It sounds so dramatic, but I’ve had those moments and I bet you have, too. Moments get honestly low. Times get impossibly tough. Not one of us is exempt from the reality of grief, and I don’t doubt that every one of us sitting down together today can call to mind a moment when our endurance has threatened to perish.
As we read the words in Lamentations 3, different moments in my life flash into memory. I’ve never been attacked by a bear or shot at with an arrow, but I can certainly recall seasons of “grinding my teeth on gravel”, as the Lamentor so vividly puts it.
Just the other day I sat down with my sister to talk about this passage and read it aloud with her, and after the second time through, something minor yet monumental stuck out to me. Do you see in verse 21—the moment the entire book of Lamentations climaxes—when the author’s sense of rejection by God shifts to confidence in Him? Pay attention to his words here:
“But this I call to mind.”
I missed it the first time and almost missed it the second, but it feels huge. The author of Lamentations (believed to be Jeremiah but no one knows for sure) doesn’t say, “But this is what I think is going to happen,” or even, “But this is what I wish would happen.” The turning point of Lamentations is not a moment of speculation.
No! He’s remembering something! Something he knows is true.
The Lamentor is calling to mind a truth he already knows, and it’s something that—in spite of the bears and arrows and rocks in his teeth—gives him a sure hope at the very moment his endurance is perishing:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
– Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV
How does he know? What is this memory? Is it from his own personal life experience, or is he drawing from beyond his own life to his forefathers’ history with the Lord of Mercy?
Consider how David drew from the testimony of his people in Psalm 22:4:
“In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”
I think sometimes we forget God is bigger than what we know of Him from personal experience. That’s why it’s so important to learn about God in history and keep our own relationships with God personal, but not private!
What if I found myself in a hopeless situation, but my only personal experience with God’s deliverance was that one time He helped me find my retainer in high school (yes, I wore a retainer in high school. ahem.), and the time our team miraculously won the volleyball state finals when we were down our best player? When I need to call to mind a steadfast love, I get to reach way farther back than 32 years!
The God and Creator of the universe has scripted an enormous and lovingly elaborate story of love and provision and salvation for His people. So, we, just like the Lamentor, get to “call to mind” the great deeds and marvelous rescues of our God over generations.
Your God who sits with you today, while you are afraid and dying and bitter with heavy chains and a crooked path? He’s the God who slayed a giant with a stone in a slingshot, rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall and delivered an entire nation from slavery. Same God—then and now.
So THIS we call to mind: God has a track record of faithfulness and mercy that reaches back millennia, far before and beyond us! It is a record that, time and again, points to this truth which turns the book of Lamentations on its head and allows us to return from the darkest night to a light of hope:
“Great is your faithfulness.”