ODJ: praise in the pain

January 14, 2016 

READ: Lamentations 5:1-22 

But Lord , You remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation (v.19).

Kim Nguyen was preparing for her doctoral exams in Old Testament when she learned that she would need surgery on her eyes. She should have recovered in 2 weeks, but 6 months later she still couldn’t see. She feared that her dream of teaching the Bible was slipping away. How could she write her dissertation if she couldn’t see? How would she find work to pay back her student loans?

At the bottom of her darkest day, Kim found hope in the book of Lamentations. The nation of Israel had been ravaged and pillaged by the Babylonians (Lamentations 5:11). The temple and palaces had been burned, leaving Jerusalem “empty and desolate, a place haunted by jackals” (Lamentations 5:18; 2 Chronicles 36:17-20). There was nothing left but tears and a plaintive cry of praise. Lamentations ends with a defiant shout from the rubble. “But Lord, you remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation. . . . Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (5:19-21).

Kim realized that not everything of value was lost. She may have lost sight, but she hadn’t lost her Lord. She claimed Lamentations’ closing praise as her own and prayed, “Lord, I don’t understand why you haven’t healed my eyes. I beg you to give me as much as you will. But either way, I want you to know, you’re still the best thing I’ve ever got.”

Kim spoke those touching words in a chapel meeting. God finally did answer her prayer, and she is now a colleague at the Christian university where I teach. But even before she knew she would be healed, she chose to praise Him in the pain. May we seek God and His faithful ways when pain comes our way!

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Genesis 24:1-27

Read Psalm 34:1-22 to learn how to praise God in the midst of pain. 
Do you need to cry out to God for something? How might your lament be an act of faith?