July 3

Lamentations 3, Psalm 30

In the 1992 summer Olympic games in the 400 meter race, one of the runners was a man by the name of Derrick Redman from Great Britain. He had trained his whole life for this moment and during the event it was looking like his dream might indeed come true, to attain that Olympic gold medal. When he entered the final stretch he went sprawling across the pavement due to the pain of tearing his hamstring muscle. By an act of sheer will, he managed to stand up and painfully tried to hop towards the finish line. Suddenly, emerging from the crowd came a figure who ran past the security guards and onto the track. It was Derrick Redman's father. With deep emotion he threw his arms around his son and told him, "Come let's finish this together." The crowd erupted in cheers and wept as they watched Derrick's father carrying his wounded son unsteadily down the stretch and across the finish line. In this marathon race called life, like Derrick Redman, we get beaten down often, and don't know to continue to move forward. Like Derrick's father, we have a Savior, named Jesus, who is willing to shoulder our burden and assist us across the finish line of heaven. We read in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

We see the prophet, Jeremiah, in despair in this appendix to the book of Jeremiah. It's hard to blame him. His road as a prophet has been difficult to say the least. Forty years of warning a thankless group of people and being virtually ignored by all of Judah. Not only ignored, but he was misrepresented, mischaracterized, beaten, attempted to be killed, etc. We read in Lamentations 1:12, "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see If there is any sorrow like my sorrow, Which has been brought on me, Which the Lord has inflicted In the day of His fierce anger." We read in 1:16, "For these things I weep; My eye, my eye overflows with water; Because the comforter, who should restore my life Is far from me. My children are desolate Because the enemy prevailed." In 3:14, we read, "I have become the ridicule of all my people-Their taunting song all the day." Jeremiah is in despair both personally and for the people of Judah. Though the people of Judah treated him terribly, rather than feeling vindicated that what he prophesied was occurring, he wept for them. He didn't scream from the sidelines, "I told you so". Personally, he was despondent. Then out of the depths of despair we read in Lam. 3:21-24, "This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him"!"

How many of us oftentimes feel like Jeremiah. We might have lost a loved one. Perhaps we were given a diagnosis by the doctor which will temporarily or permanently alter our lives. Maybe our home lives are not what we had hoped for with our spouse, our parents, or our children. Maybe we can't find the bright light from our financial or work situations. But like the story of Derrick Redman, we can finish this race strong, despite our individual circumstances, for we have One, called Jesus, who is more than able to carry us across the finish line. May we never forget that we who are in Christ are sojourners or ambassadors on earth, but our citizenship is in heaven. Paul who experienced persecution unlike many others, after discussing many of his beatings, etc, states in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,". Paul goes on in Philippians 3:14, "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ." May we look at the examples of those who went before us and finished strong despite their circumstances, because they trained their eyes to focus on God and not their circumstances.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster