by Tim McCormick
When Blue’s Clues aired on Nickelodeon in 1996, my youngest daughter was four. She was enthralled with the hunt to solve each episode’s puzzle. Coaxed into participation by the “clueless” host Steve, she would point to the screen and call out loud, “look behind you!” If you are not familiar with the show, the dog Blue would leave a trail of clues with his signature blue paw print. After a series of mini-puzzles, Steve would sit down in a comfortable chair— the Thinking Chair—to ponder the meaning of the puzzle clues with the help of his at-home, pre-school audience. The next day, Steve would do it again. Not just the same show format and a new puzzle. No, the same episode would repeat five days in a row! Why did she not tire of the message? Her bewildered eight-year-old brother wondered, too, wasn’t once enough?
In Lamentations, Jeremiah is grieving over Jerusalem. The city had been sacked and burned, and her people carried off into exile. For over 300 years, prophets like Joel, Isaiah, and more recently, Zephaniah and Jeremiah, broadcast (maybe even five days a week!) the same message to repent, to return to God or experience the consequences of their continued rebellion. Now, the evidence of judgment has God’s fingerprints all over it. Jeremiah recounts the LORD’s righteous judgments against Jerusalem in chapter 3 of Lamentations as graphic, deep personal wounds. The anguish mounts as he confesses that his hollowed soul has no peace, and his tired mind knows no happiness or hope (3:17-19).
Then Jeremiah turns the corner in his funeral poem saying,
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
On his own “thinking chair,” Jeremiah recalls God’s steadfast love and his covenant affection for his people. He reminds his own soul that God’s mercies are endless, and his faithfulness is great. As Paul and Silas found reason to sing in prison (Acts 16:25), Jeremiah finds reason to hope. When everything is stripped away, his soul answers, “I will hope in him because he is my portion, my inheritance.”
As we turn the page into 2021, we have much to lament from 2020. The world without Christ yearns for this change of calendar year and celebrates with “good riddance 2020” parties.
But the tone is more superstition than hope for the new year. We, however, belong to a God whose covenant commitment to us never ceases, whose tender compassion never fails. And when January 5 rolls around and we have already failed in our New Year’s resolutions, we can know that His love and His mercies are renewed each morning. We need to repeat that message to our weary souls and tired minds every day.