“Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
In Lamentations 3, after crying out over the pain of Jerusalem, Jeremiah utters the most powerful word in the entire book: yet. Yet is the moment the prophet moves from his painful questions to his only hope. Yet is the driving point, the firm foundation, the stake-in-the-ground of all laments.
Jeremiah’s yet is found in the unchanging, steadfast love of God. Through his yet, Jeremiah declares, “Even if this suffering never ends, I will always worship God.”
Yet is the paradigm shift of all laments. Yet arises even when the cancer isn’t cured, when the debt never decreases, when the boyfriend doesn’t call, when the child continues to struggle, when the questions aren’t answered, when the loved one hurts you again. Yet believes that even if it doesn’t go well with you, Jesus is still enough. His compassionate love is more than enough. “[Yet] is a praise that can now hope all things, having been forced to let go of everything,” writes musician Michael Card.[i]
Yet is the fighter’s prize. Yet is the hard-won faith. Yet hopes in God, for God’s sake alone.
“In the darkness we have a choice that is not really there in better times.” writes Pastor Timothy Keller in his treatise on grief and suffering. “We can choose to serve God just because he is God…. If we do that—we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his benefits.”[ii]
All laments lead to the truest form of worship—the worship of God alone. Not God and blessings, not God and benefits, but God for God’s sake. No matter what happens. No matter how violently the storm rages. No matter God’s apparent absence. Lament keeps on. Lament utters a profound yet: “This sucks. Yet I will praise God.”
I’ve known that the goal of lament is not fast acting pain-removal. But lament is the art of trusting God no matter what he gives, no matter what he takes. Suffering, if we let it, can birth genuine faith.
1. Have you gotten to the yet of your pain? If you were honest, have you been able to move from your difficult questions to hope in God? What is keeping you from getting there?
2. In what ways has your suffering taught you to love God for who He is rather than all that He gives you? How has the pain revealed deeper beliefs of how you have been serving God in the past when life was going your way?
3. The yet is always hard won. If you’ve seen this Biblical pattern played out in the Psalms of lament, you know that the yet doesn’t arrive until the feelings are honestly laid upon the table. The yet is a resolve to trade what is seen for that which is not. What are some unseen truths and promises about God that can help you find your yet? How can choosing yet in spite of all your pain be a defiant act of hopeful worship?
Lord, in my wrestling for my “yet,” my questions, doubts, and uncertainty can sometimes keep me from moving forward into hope. Help me to lay that which blocks my trust into your hands. Let this hurt guide me towards true worship of you, not for whatever benefits I believe I deserve but rather, because of who you are. In my deepest griefs, let genuine faith be birthed. Amen.
A Practice: Gratitude + Praise
In your fight for your yet, take a moment to worship God in the here and now through focusing on what you are grateful for and praising him in response. Even if your circumstances seem grim and devoid of anything to celebrate, think of one way you can thank God. It could be an aspect of his character or just another breath in your lungs. Choose to worship Him even if your situation seems unworthy of it.
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[i]Timothy Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering (New York: Riverhead Books, 2013) 248-49.