A switch in focus

“When the dog bites,

When the bee stings,

When I’m feeling sad,

I simply remember my favorite things,

And then I don’t feel so bad.”

by Marilyn Mathis

Feeling sad? Want to feel glad? Then take Maria’s advice from “The Sound of Music” and switch your focus. Take your mind off the problem and focus on your “favorite things!”

Jeremiah, the prophet, gave similar advice in a lament, or poem, not a song. His remedy for worry to worship is found in the book of Lamentations. This poem by Jeremiah was written after the people of Judah had been taken into captivity (1:3); Jerusalem lay in ruins (2:8-9); the people were destitute (2:11-12); their suffering was horrible beyond belief (2:20); and the prophet wept continually (3:48-49).

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, cries out, “I have forgotten happiness . . . my strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD” (3:17-18). He is remembering and weeping! But then he makes a switch in his focus. How? What is his secret for redirecting his focus? CHOICE! Jeremiah chose to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). He turned his thoughts from his problems to his God. He recalls some of his “favorite things” about the Lord.

“This I recall to my mind (not affliction and misery) . . . the LORD’s loving kindnesses which indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (3:21-23). Jeremiah began to turn his thoughts toward God’s:

• “Loving kindnesses” – God’s covenant love! A love that is loyal and will never end. What an encouraging “favorite thing” to remember about God – He loves you! He will always love you! His love is new, a fresh love, every morning.

• “Compassions” – God’s mercy! His mercy never fails. He will always show sympathy, mercy and tenderness toward His people. Do you need a little tenderness? God has an inexhaustible fountain of mercy just for you.

• “Faithfulness” – God’s dependability! God had never failed Jeremiah in the past. He has promised to remain faithful in the future. So Jeremiah turns his focus from feeling to faith! When he recalled what he knew about the Lord rather than what he was feeling, Jeremiah’s lament turned to a song of praise!

Because Jeremiah believed in the love, mercy and faithfulness of his God, he found hope in a hopeless situation. He had said that his hope had perished (3:18), but now he has a new outlook.

“The LORD is my portion . . . therefore I have hope in Him” (3:24). The word “portion” is Hebrew for “share or booty.” It refers to the spoils of war. Jeremiah is saying, “In the battle of life, God is my reward, my share and my portion. In Him, I have hope – a joyous and confident expectation in something promised, which will certainly come to pass.”

In times of trouble we need to imitate Jeremiah, who looked away from himself and remembered “a few of his favorite things” about his God.

What kind of battles are you fighting today? Bring them to the Lord and trust in His unchanging, unfailing mercy and faithfulness. Like Jeremiah, make a choice to switch your focus from the bitter to blessings. May your cry be, “GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS TO ME, O LORD!”

God bless and keep you.