It seems like bad things come in bunches, doesn’t it?
You have a car break down only to find that the air conditioner has gone out only to find that the water heater is leaking.
Or you get crossways in a relationship only to find that you are overburdened at work only to find that one of your children didn’t make the sports team.
And so on. Life happens, both good and bad, and at least from our perspective, it can seem that those things happen in streaks. That’s true at a personal level, but it’s also true when we look outside our own lives. There are seasons in the world when it seems like there is a relative amount of peace, prosperity, well-being, and agreement. But then again, there are seasons when it seems like the hits just keep on coming. And this is certainly what the last couple of years have felt like.
“2020” has ceased to be the way we identify a particular year and has instead become a catch phrase in our vernacular. It was the year when seemingly everything in the world went wrong, but when the calendar switched over to 2021, we assumed the season would change. But in many ways, it has not. Perhaps 2021 is not what 2020 was, but it’s at least the little brother of that year. And now here we are, surprisingly, in the closing season of this year hoping once again that the season is going to be different.
Maybe it will. But then again, maybe it won’t. In either case, though, there will be seasons that will at least remind us of this one – times when it seems like circumstances just keep piling on. For the Christian, though, it’s a good and right thing to call to mind that no matter what or how much is going wrong, there are still some things going right. Hear the words of the prophet from the Old Testament:
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I 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.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him” (Lam. 3:19-24).
Surely everything was going wrong for Jeremiah. He had been mistreated, neglected, abused, and maligned when he faithfully warned the people of coming judgment. And then the judgment came – the city of God was besieged and the people of God were in dire trouble. Jeremiah wept for the people, wept for their sin, wept for the judgment they were undergoing. Everything was going badly. But even when everything was going wrong, something was still going right –
The Lord was still compassionate. His presence was still with them. God was still faithful, even when His people were not. These are the things Jeremiah had to call to mind – he had to make an effort to remember what was right in the midst of everything that was wrong. And though our circumstances might not be the same degree of “bad” or “wrong” that Jeremiah was experiencing, we still must do the work of calling to mind what is going right.
So what good do we call to mind today, especially if it seems like all is going wrong? The answer is similar to what Jeremiah testified. What’s going right is still the Lord’s grace. His compassion. His care. His advocacy. Here is what we call to mind, and therefore we have hope:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:31-39).
Yes. This is what we call to mind. This is what we work to believe in the midst of circumstances that are going terribly wrong. In the midst of all that’s going badly, Jesus is going right. And we are still in Him.