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Hope in the darkness

Yet, I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: 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!
-Lamentations 3:21-23

These words from Lamentations are powerful and life-giving. They speak to how a person who is suffering greatly can have daily hope.

Lamentations is a book of, you guessed it, laments - cries out to God and the world about how harsh and difficult life is. The first three chapters are nothing but laments and deep cries of distress from a person who is suffering greatly every day.

Until you get to 3:21; where we get the great word, "YET." The writer is essentially shouting, "Yes, all of these bad things are happening and it is greatly painful, YET I have hope today in the midst of this darkness because of who my God is."

The author doesn't have hope because the circumstances changed, or because the pain went away, or because the darkness is gone. The author rejoices and has hope because God's love is there, present, new every single day.

Jesus at the end of the Gospel of Matthew makes a promise to be with His disciples always.

Always includes the bad times of life.
Always includes the hard moments.
Always includes the times filled with nothing but grief.

We have the secure promise that God's love is always present and new for us every single day because Jesus has promised to be with us always.

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Beware the Ides of March

How do you deal with betrayal? What happens in your heart or mind when you are not just let down or disappointed by someone, but genuinely betrayed or hurt?

The Ides of March is a phrase made famous by Shakespeare referring to the day Julius Caesar was betrayed and murdered.

Usually, we respond negatively; with a desire for vengeance and wanting to get even (maybe more than even if we're honest).

How does Jesus deal with betrayal?

Jesus faced plenty of betrayal and abandonment in His life. Peter gets the center stage for denying Jesus three times, but the reality is that all of the Apostles abandoned Jesus the night he was arrested. Then on the cross, the very people Jesus came to love and save, are the ones mocking Him as He dies for them.

In response to Peter's denial, Jesus pulls him aside and has an intimate conversation where He tells Peter three times that He is forgiven and still His disciple.

In response to the crowds mocking Him on the cross, Jesus declares, "Father, forgive them."

Jesus' response to denial, betrayal, and abandonment is forgiveness. And that is good news for you and me.

Every time we sin, every time we think, say, or do something that hurts others and goes against the way of Jesus, His response is not to abandon us, but to forgive us.

This season of Lent is about focusing on what Jesus did for sinners and the good news is that what Jesus did was to respond to denial, betrayal, and abandonment by going to the cross to forgive us for doing those things to Him.

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