The people of Israel had been exiled. Babylonians had terrorized, defeated, exiled them. The issue is what were they to do in the low estate they were now in? There are two lessons detected in the scriptures, as revealed in Lamentations 1:1-6.

First, we must learn the lessons of the past. Although such advice seems simple, this truth is more complex than it appears. When God is ignored, life tumbles in. When God is focused upon, life has meaning. In the Garden, with Adam and Eve, life was a joy when they walked with God. Forgetting God, they invited disorder. The brothers, Cain and Able, could have lived in love and peace if God had been in them. Without God, it was death, destruction and fear. Hunger drove Jacob’s family to Egypt. Their eyes grew large looking in at the bounty of Egypt, and soon they were in slavery. Victory came when Israel depended on God in the promised land. Troubles and difficulties were the result of forgetting about God. God added to one person is more than two. With God, defeat is brushed aside and victory is grasped.

In Estonia, there is a small United Methodist Church led by Alexander Krums. He was ordered to disband his church and stop preaching. He refused and was imprisoned for five years. When Pastor Krums was released, he came back to a church that was five times larger than when he had first gone to prison. The leader could have known that jailing Peter and Paul didn’t stop the early Christians. It won’t work in our time either. We can grow the church, if everyone is willing and working together.

In difficulty, we can learn to retain faith. Terry Anderson was one of the hostages detained in Lebanon for many years. After his release in 1992, he was interviewed by Time Magazine. He was asked whether he held any bitterness toward the people who had held him so long. Terry Anderson replied, “I don’t have time for it. I don’t have any need for it. It is required of me as a Christian to put that aside, to forgive and to try to understand them. I pray for them. I wish them no ill in their lives. My life is very, very busy.” Faith is retained when we focus on our Savior, not on our tormentors. Faith is retained when we respond to love, not hate. Faith is retained when we seek reconciliation, not spite. Faith is retained when we act in love, not in revenge.

By faith we understand. Hebrews 11:1-3, states “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

How is your faith?

J.B. Morris leads the Rock Hill United Methodist Church.