Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lamentations 4:17-18 -- On Drama and Apocalyptic Thinking

"As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.
They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come."
Lamentations 4:17-18

In these verses, things are pretty bad because of sin and iniquity.  I'm not sure if this is part of Jeremiah's prayer, or in between prayers, but either way, he isn't happy about it, and he thinks the end has come.  And it certainly was an end for many, because this was written after the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem (approximately 586 BC), and things were very, very bad.  Luckily, it wasn't *the* end.

I think Jeremiah's worry was understandable.  It was a situation filled with horror and death and it was hard to see any hope for the future.  I pray that we don't have to live through similar horrors.  Unfortunately, unlike Jeremiah, I think we often start talking or worrying about the end with much less provocation.  Sometimes it is just a couple of inches of snow and we start calling it the snowpocalypse.  :)  And of course we buy the corner store out of milk and bread... because we aren't really good at long term preparation, but we are awesome at panic. :)  In our personal lives too, it seems like whenever something happens that we don't like, we jump to drama.  Our emotions fly out of proportion, and we think it is the end, because if one thing could go wrong, then certainly the whole universe is against us. :)

Now, by saying that we are drama addicts and panic easily, I don't mean to suggest that all of our trials are imaginary.  We all have real, serious trials that we have to face, and they are hard for us, even if they aren't hard for anyone else.  Paranoia probably makes them worse, but it doesn't make them appear out of thin air.  And I definitely don't think we should avoid drama by being lazy or complacent either.  God tells us in D&C 58:27-28 that we "should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; / For the power is in them."  In other words, we have the power to choose to do good, and also the power to trust God and to hope rather than to despair.  That's part of the lesson that Jeremiah gives us here as well.  Instead of choosing to watch for and trust in something else to deliver us, we should be trusting in and watching for God.

God asks us to "be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days" (D&C 24:8).  If we really believe that, then in the midst of our trials--even the worst ones--we can find something to hang on to, and to hope for, because no one can ever take God away from us.  The only way we will lose him is if we choose to walk away.  Today, let's trust in God and work on letting go of our paranoia and our panic.  Let's ditch the drama and find confidence and peace in listening to the Lord.

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