When Everything Falls Apart
By Collin Haddock, College + Career Pastor
No one likes a false promise. No one gets excited or filled with joy over finding out something that you thought was a guarantee wasn’t one at all. Somewhere along the line in Christian culture, however, there was interjected a false promise. “If you follow Christ,” it goes, “you will no longer have problems in your life. Everything will be happy. No more hard times, no more sadness. Everyday will be your best day.” As wonderful as that sounds, that’s just not true. We are never promised trouble free lives. In fact, the Bible is riddled with sorrowful accounts of hard times as much as it is filled with joyful accounts of good times.
The prophet Jeremiah knew this all too well. After watching his homeland get utterly turned to ruin, Jeremiah penned in the aptly named book Lamentations, “How she sits alone, the city once crowded with people! She who was great among the nations has become like a widow...She weeps bitterly during the night, with tears on her cheeks. There is no one to offer her comfort.” (Lamentation 1:1a, 2a.) Not a passage that one would find draped across a wall in a sanctuary or printed on a coffee mug. Jeremiah mourned this great city and its destruction. This was a time of war, a time of chaos, a time of heart break, loss, and desolation. It was not a joyous time. Though we, in our day to day lives, most likely won’t interact with a conquering army destroying a city, we can all understand at least a portion of Jeremiah’s sadness. Things fall apart. This is a part of a fallen world. There are times that we all face that while the rest of the world keeps on going and the earth keeps on spinning, it seems as though our life is being conquered by whatever may haunt us.
Although the dark times in life will show up, there is still a hope that shines through. The hope that we have in Jesus still shines through, sometimes as a small sliver of light from the parting clouds and sometimes as a bright dawn over the horizon, impossible to ignore and stretching across every inch and every mile. Though it maybe hard to see in the middle of the storm, Elliot Clark reminds us, “even when we’re wave-tossed and lost at sea, Jesus remains the captain of the ship and the commander of the storm.” Jeremiah understood the reality of the situation in His own time. Even though the city fell and the country with it, there was still a hope that Jeremiah held to. Hope is not a wishful thing. It is a firm and fixed thing. The original context for hope was not in things that one wished were true, but rather in the knowledge that they would be true.
Even though Jeremiah had been “deprived of peace” (Jeremiah 3:17), he knew that God was the sustainer and that his hope lay not in himself, but in God: “Because of the Lord’s faithful love, we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him’” (Jeremiah 3:22-24.) Charles Spurgeon, the famed British minister and theologian, in his commentary of this passage, offers a gentle yet impactful reminder, pointing out that though “overwhelmed with sorrow” Jeremiah “says ‘The Lord is my portion.’ Whatever we have lost, we have not lost our God.”
You are not alone in your time of darkness. The shade, the cloud, the night do not last forever. In our times of sorrow, our one hope is the promise kept in Jesus. In Him, we have a fixed and promised hope. In the end, He still reigns, and He is still Lord of All, Prince of Peace, and the Victor in the Battle. Even though the Christian life is not always a sunshine-filled beach, our hope and peace is not in the good things that life provides, or in the happiness we feel, but in Jesus. When everything falls apart, when the waves get too high, when the thunder shatters through the night, we must cling to the promise that we were given: “I will never leave you.”