My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink. He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Dear God, yesterday, over lunch with a friend, I talked about how I’ve been disappointed with you in the past. I felt like you let me down when I had done my best to be faithful to you. My path got harder and more painful than I thought I deserved. What a beautiful portrait of that kind of pain this passage from Lamentations is! It expresses exactly what I was describing to my friend yesterday. I was filled with bitterness and felt you had given me a bitter cup to swallow. My peace (which I treasure from my relationship with you more than anything) was gone. “Everything I had hoped for from the Lord [was] lost!” But you used that experience to help me enter into a completely new place. I haven’t arrived. I’m not perfect. And I still can revel in self-pity with the best of them. Yet you taught me through that time to still “dare to hope.” You taught me to turn loose of what I thought I deserved at every level. Marriage. Children. Work. Money. Okay, like I said, I still fall into the traps of feeling like I deserve those things, but I can feel the progress I’ve made, and I’m grateful.
As for this image by Steve Prince, let me spend some time with it and see what be noticed and put into it.
- It appears to be a tribals-type woman who is not fully clothed.
- There is something ominous behind her. I originally thought she held the umbrella, but it is the mysterious figure behind her that holds the umbrella for her.
- She has her right hand around her abdomen. Is she pregnant?
- The train is not only falling, but it is blowing in from an angle. This isn’t just a shower. It’s a storm that requires the umbrella to be held against it.
- It looks like umbrella is made of some time of leaves or thatch.
- The man holding the umbrella has his left hand (with pretty gnarled fingers) around the woman’s waist.
- The man is under the umbrella with her.
- The man’s clothes cover more of him than her clothes cover of her. He even has a head covering while she has none.
- Her scarf is blowing in the wind to support the idea of a storm.
- It looks like she is trying to help with the umbrella, but it’s obvious that he is the one with control over it.
- Her eyes are closed and she looks like she is just surviving, while the man looks confident and sure. His left arm around her indicates care.
- The more I look at the picture the less ominous the man looks. He is becoming more noble in my eyes.
- The piece is titled “Send Your Rain.” Is this storm from you for my good? Is this a rain that actually nurtures while it challenges? I like that thought.
Here is what Bustard says about the image:
This print is from the same series as Exodus: Bread from Heaven and therefore is intended to be a look at an Old Testament passage through the lens of a love story. This image shows a couple walking through a storm, which is symbolic of the suffering, pain, and destruction documented in the book of Lamentations. The husband clings to his wife as they move in faith through the storm. In the midst of the raindrops three elongated figures forms (alluding to the Trinity/Holy Spirit) create a covering over the couple. The woman clutching her abdomen is a symbol of hope and renewal as it represents the imminent arrival of a child. The presence of the Cross is created by the subtle placement of the woman’s finger overlapping the rod of the umbrella. It is by faith they walk, and the Holy Spirit amplifies their love through the storms of life.
So, I never thought of them as being a couple. I was thinking more of the woman representing your people and the man representing you. We are your bride. But you are in the umbrella? Hmm. That’s interesting. I have to admit, I really like the idea of this depicting my wife and me going through this together. Over the last 10 years, we’ve really needed each other in ways we never imagined. And we’ve needed you.
Father, help me to hold on to you. You don’t have to take away the storm for me to have faith in you. I’m slowly learning that. And help me to really believe and have faith in the fact that your steadfast love never ceases and your mercies never come to an end. You renew me every morning through your faithfulness to me. Great is your faithfulness, oh Lord. You are my portion, and I will hope in you.
In Jesus’s name I pray,