“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” La 3:21 NAS
Lamentations chapter three describes how despair engulfs us, and how we can conquer it. Jeremiah’s downward spiral starts in verse one: “I am the man who has seen affliction” (v. 1 NAS), and morphs into an unhealthy preoccupation with his troubles. The fact is, when our circumstances deteriorate, our self-talk sounds a lot like Jeremiah’s. He blamed God for his physical symptoms, his emotional anguish, and his sense of entrapment. He rehearsed God’s failure to answer his prayers, and his fear that he’d been singled out as an object of public ridicule: all classic elements of depression. No wonder he felt powerless and hopeless! (See v. 18). That kind of self-talk initiates and intensifies despair and depression and feeds our negative outlook. The turning point came when Jeremiah changed his self-talk: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” He changed his thought process by recalling God’s goodness and mercy: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed…his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22-23 NIV). When you change your mind—you change your mood! It doesn’t happen automatically; you have to deliberately refocus your thinking at the very time you feel like doing it least. Notice: Jeremiah’s circumstances didn’t improve—his outlook did. A stream of encouraging thoughts triggered a change in his self-talk—and his depression lifted: “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him’” (v. 24 NAS). That’s how important your self-talk is!