Here is the verse mapping for Lamentations 3:19-24. Please scroll past photos to read my thoughts.
One night at the beginning of the summer, I had trouble falling asleep and had pulled an all-nighter. I was sitting on the couch reading, around 5:00 am, when I caught a glimpse of pinks and oranges peeking through my curtains. I love a good sunset, so I thought a sunrise must be just as beautiful. I grabbed my camera and ran outside.
For the next half hour, I took over a hundred pictures while goosebumps gathered on my arms and tears ran down my cheeks. Never had I seen such a display of colors and vibrancy that clearly demonstrated the power of the Lord. The darkness of night was giving way to a new day while the birds, tree frogs and coyotes sang their songs; as if in worship to their Lord and Creator. It was an amazing experience and I clearly felt the Lord’s presence and a reminder to remember of just how truly awesome the God is that I serve.
I decided to verse map these verses when I saw them referenced in Lysa Terkeurst’s latest book, “Uninvited.” (I may have mentioned this book once or twice lately, just go and get it already! You need to read it, friend!). When I came across the study notes in my Christian Growth study Bible, that noted Jeremiah may have written this particular chapter after he witnessed a sunrise, I can clearly imagine the situation unfolding in my mind:
I see an older man, hunched over in despair, crushed by the knowledge that his beloved homeland had fallen, despite his best effort’s to warn his people. I see him wandering aimlessly around outside in the earliest of hours, unable to sleep, crying and sobbing out to the Lord in sadness and anger. He is waving a closed fist towards the sky. “Why, Lord? Why this? Why now? How can my people and I ever come back from this? Just tell me!” He falls to his knees in desperation, eyes closed, tears streaming down his cheeks into the dirt as he completely collapses from the weight of his sorrow. He is overcome and overwhelmed with his emotions and the circumstances surrounding him. Jeremiah has given up.
Then I can imagine him squinting his eyes open at the sun as it rays start to push through the darkness. I can imagine him not moving, still lying in the earth, curled in a ball. The sobbing is starting to cease; his breath catching. I imagine the colors of orange and pinks as they subtly spread across the horizon, slowly.
I imagine him becoming still, listening to the sounds of the night as they sing one last song before resting for the day. I can see the bright yellow circle of the sun start to appear, pushing the shades of pink into orange and red brilliance up higher and wider across the vastness of the sky; more and more majestic as they rise and spread.
I can see Jeremiah start to stand on shaky legs. The brilliance of the sky before him is now reflecting back on his face as a smile stretches wide across his face. I can see Jeremiah’s old arms raised confidently in the air, fingers spread in praise and worship as new tears start to fall down his sunken and tired face. Only now they are tears of joy for a Lord who has reminded him of who He is and what He can do. He cries out, “Yes, Lord! Thank you, Lord! I praise you, Lord!” He is filled with hope of the new day before him, despite the toils of yesterday. He finishes watching the sunrise give way to a new day.
As others start to stir, Jeremiah runs to capture the moment, for he knew God showed him this sunrise at this time for a reason. His poetic soul had to capture it. At that sunrise, the Lord knew that I would see my sunrise and read Jeremiah’s words…over two thousand years later. He knew I would share them with you. God knew.
I am not a morning person. At. All. I can’t say that I have ever watched a rising sun from its ascent in the earliest of dark mornings to the fullness of a bright day before this summer morning. I don’t know how many years it will be till I do so again. Maybe never. I’d like to say this experience transformed me into a morning person with the willingness to arise before dawn and see such beauty day after day. I can’t because I would just be lying to you. I am a night chick through and through, followed by a hard to rise chick in the morning.
I am, however, forever grateful for that moment and the technology that left me with these pictures, some of which I just shared with you. I do look at the sunrise photos several times a week to wonder at the beauty of the Lord. I am constantly reminded by them how there is absolutely nothing He can’t do or accomplish. If He takes the time to paint glory across the sky, what greater things can He do for me and through me? Even in the midst of my circumstances, He is still there. Every. Day. Every day I have opportunity to do new things and make new choices, despite the hurts and disappointments of my yesterday.
“We are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:23-24, NIV)
Until next time, remember that He’s got your back!