When You’ve Forgotten What Happiness Is.

My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is. Then I thought: My future is lost, as well as my hope from the LORD.

Lamentations 3:17

You know the feeling, but find it hard to describe. Someone asks you what is wrong, and you desperately try to relate how you’re feeling in a way they would understand. “Uhm, well…. have you ever felt like you were in a deep, dark, pit… so dark and so deep that you couldn’t even tell which way was up or which way was down?” Their response leaves you feeling like “No, they don’t get it. They’ve never felt like this. Why am I even trying to explain?”

And then they ask you…

“Why? Why do you feel like this?”

Ugh. The dreaded question. Thing is, you’re not even completely sure “why.” It’s just that you’ve felt this way for so long that you’ve forgotten what happiness is.

That sounds so dramatic, and you are sure it will lead to more questions you aren’t able to answer, so you smile and say, “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

But it’s not fine.

You aren’t fine.

But you aren’t sure what to do. And everyone’s told you to try a million different things and you feel like nothing is working. You feel like you will never get better. You feel like you will never feel happiness again.

You’ve lost your hope.

And you’ve almost lost your faith.

The author of the words quoted from Lamentations could totally relate to you. His name was Jeremiah. I just finished reading a different book he wrote (named Jeremiah) and I feel like I know him. He was so transparent. And he had such a great ability to describe exactly how he felt with no sugar-coating. No fake smile here. Just 100% honest.

The closest thing I can relate to the situation Jeremiah found himself in would be a concentration camp from the Holocaust. He was stuck inside the walls of a city that was surrounded by brutal enemy warriors. The people trapped inside the walls were all so hungry that the people surrounding Jeremiah forced themselves to participate in cannibalism just to stay alive. Mothers were cooking and eating their own children… ya, it can’t get much worse than that. Women and girls were getting raped before his eyes. Jeremiah was in the middle of it and he was legit depressed. Every day he saw it. He lived it. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. He literally saw no hope.

I continually remember (my affliction, homelessness, the wormwood, and the poison) and have become depressed.

Lamentations 3:20

Jeremiah had every reason in the world to be depressed. He was hungry. He was homeless. He was hopeless. There was no light at the end of his tunnel….

Well, no light that he could physically see.

So, in the middle of the darkness, in the midst of the ashes, Jeremiah, a victim of horrific circumstances, chooses to control the one thing that he can.

His thoughts.

Now, this was not a “once and done” choice Jeremiah made. Over the course of several years, he found his thoughts bringing him to some very dark places. Dark as in, “I wish I had been killed in my mother’s womb.” And who could blame him?

Yes, Jeremiah’s circumstances were dark. He struggled with dark thoughts. But he realized that his thoughts were actually contributing to his depression. He recognized why he was depressed. His depression was directly tied to what he was thinking about in the middle of his horrific circumstances.

I continually remember them and have become depressed.

Lamentations 3:20

Jeremiah explained where his thoughts were taking him. Like a broken record, the same horrible thoughts kept going through his mind. And Jeremiah’s thoughts, not his circumstances, were what was causing his depression.

The battle, Jeremiah recognized, was not from without. The battle was from within.

So Jeremiah made a choice. He decided to take control of the thoughts that were naturally filling his mind. He chose to consciously and intentionally think about something DIFFERENT than the constant remembering of his “homelessness, affliction, wormwood, and poison.” He chose to take those thoughts captive – imprison those thoughts – and then intentionally replace them. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Yet I call this to mind…

Lamentations 3:21

Notice how he has to force himself to change the direction of his thoughts? He chooses to call to his mind what is NOT THERE. What is the result of his change in thinking (not the change in his circumstances)?

…and therefore I have hope.

Lamentations 3:21


Hope is the result of changing what we choose to think about. So, what gave Jeremiah hope? What did he switch his thinking from and what did he change his thinking to? Read my post “6 Things to Remember When You’ve Forgotten What Happiness Is.”

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Romans 12:1-2

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