Rev. Dr. Kelvin Calloway (Courtesy photo)

Scripture: Lamentations 3:21-25  

Like each year, 2023 had it challenges. Whether professional or personal, physical, or spiritual, like each year, 2023 had it challenges. You may have experienced challenges in your professional life, or you may have experienced challenges in your personal life.

You may have experienced challenges in your physical life with your health; mental or physical. If you have, there is nothing to be ashamed about, but for God’s sake get some help for it.

You may have experienced challenges to your faith and that’s nothing to be ashamed about either. You may have had to question God about many things in 2023 and you may have even got mad at God about some of the challenges you experienced in 2023.

No matter what you experienced in 2023, you are still here in 2024. If you think you been through something, the prophet has sho nuff been through something. Walk with me Lamentations 3 as he remembers and recalls what he has been through (vv.19-20).

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In Verse 1, he says that he was a man that has seen affliction by the rod of God’s wrath. He does not attribute his afflictions to the wrath of Satan. He attributes his afflictions to the wrath of God.

Whatever happens in life, God either intends it to happen or God allows it to happen. Satan has some power, but God has all power. Satan has penultimate power, but God has ultimate power. Listen to what the prophet says about how God has afflicted him.

God led him and brought him into a dark place and turned His hand against him (v.2). Anybody felt like God turned His hand against you? If you have, I want you to know that you are in good biblical company. God made his flesh and skin old and broke his bones (v.4).

God built against him and compassed about him with gall, misfortune, bitterness, travail, and hard labor (v.5). God set him in some dark places, built a hedge around him so he could not get out, and made his chain heavy. When he cried, shouted, and prayed nobody heard him (vv.6-8).

Have you felt like the weight of the world has been on your shoulders and weighing you down? Have you prayed and felt like your prayer couldn’t get through? Know today that you are not by yourself.

The prophet goes on to say that he felt like God was playing games with him. In verse 9 he says that God enclosed his ways with hewn stone and made his paths crooked as if he was in a maze. Have you ever felt that your life was like a maze that you couldn’t find your way out of? Everywhere you turned, you just kept running into walls.

And when you finally thought you had figured out the maze, you ran into a bear, and when you got away from the bear, you ran into a lion (vv.10-11). Our ancestors would say, if it ain’t one thing, its another.

In verse 12, he goes on to tell us that God bent His bow and set him as a mark for His arrow and caused the arrows of His quiver to enter his reigns, his kidneys, his heart, his seat of desires and affections, and he was a derision; a laughingstock to all of his people, ridiculed by them in their song all the day long (vv.12-14). Have you ever felt like a laughingstock and been ridiculed by your friends, enemies, and frenemies?

God, the prophet says in verse 15, had filled him with bitterness, made him drunken with wormwood, broke his teeth with gravel stones, covered him with ashes, and removed his soul so far from peace that he forgot what prosperity even was.  His hope and strength perished from the Lord (vv.15-18).

He says in verse 19 that the experiences he had been through humbled him (vv.19-20). God uses our afflictions to humble us. Because he had some good theology, look at what he says in verse 21.  In recalling to mind what he’s been through, he says that therefore he has hope because of God’s mercy, he was not consumed. Because God’s compassion fails not, he is still here. God’s mercies are new every morning because great is His faithfulness.

God has more new mercies than He has old afflictions. God has more new mercies than He has old dark places, old wormwood, gall, and travail.

God uses our afflictions to humble us, and we are still here because of His mercies toward us.

We are still here because of His mercy and as Marvin Sapp says, we never would have made it without Him! We would have lost it all. But now we see that His mercy made us stronger, and not weaker. His mercy made us wiser and not dummier. His mercy made us better and not bitter. He has more mercies in 2024 than life has challenges. In Jesus’ Name!