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There Is Still Hope

The Prophet Speaks:

I have suffered much
    because God was angry.
He chased me into a dark place,
    where no light could enter.
I am the only one he punishes
over and over again,
    without ever stopping.
God caused my skin and flesh
to waste away,
    and he crushed my bones.
He attacked and surrounded me
    with hardships and trouble;
he forced me to sit in the dark
    like someone long dead.

God built a fence around me
that I cannot climb over,
    and he chained me down.
Even when I shouted
and prayed for help,
    he refused to listen.
God put big rocks in my way
and made me follow
    a crooked path.
10 God was like a bear or a lion
    waiting in ambush for me;
11 he dragged me from the road,
    then tore me to shreds.[a]
12 God took careful aim
and shot his arrows
13     straight through my heart.

14 I am a joke to everyone—
no one ever stops
    making fun of me.
15 God has turned my life sour.
16 He made me eat gravel
    and rubbed me in the dirt.
17 I cannot find peace
    or remember happiness.

18 I tell myself, “I am finished!
I can’t count on the Lord
    to do anything for me.”
19 Just thinking of my troubles
and my lonely wandering
    makes me miserable.
20 That’s all I ever think about,
    and I am depressed.[b]
21 Then I remember something
    that fills me with hope.
22 The Lord’s kindness never fails!
If he had not been merciful,
    we would have been destroyed.[c]
23 The Lord can always be trusted
    to show mercy each morning.
24 Deep in my heart I say,
“The Lord is all I need;
    I can depend on him!”

25 The Lord is kind to everyone
    who trusts and obeys him.
26 It is good to wait patiently
    for the Lord to save us.
27 When we are young,
    it is good to struggle hard
28 and to sit silently alone,
if this is what
    the Lord intends.
29 Being rubbed in the dirt
    can teach us a lesson;[d]
30 we can also learn from insults
    and hard knocks.

31 The Lord won’t always reject us!
32     He causes a lot of suffering,
but he also has pity
    because of his great love.
33 The Lord doesn’t enjoy
    sending grief or pain.

34 Don’t trample prisoners
    under your feet
35 or cheat anyone out of
    what is rightfully theirs.
God Most High sees everything,
36 and he knows
when you refuse
    to give someone a fair trial.
37 No one can do anything
    without the Lord’s approval.
38 Good and bad each happen
at the command
    of God Most High.
39 We’re still alive!
    We shouldn’t complain
when we are being punished
    for our sins.
40 Instead, we should think
about the way we are living,
    and turn back to the Lord.

41 When we lift our hands
    in prayer to God in heaven,
we should offer him our hearts
    and say, 42 “We’ve sinned!
We’ve rebelled against you,
    and you haven’t forgiven us!
43 Anger is written all over you,
as you pursue and slaughter us
    without showing pity.
44 You are behind a wall of clouds
    that blocks out our prayers.
45 You allowed nations
to treat us like garbage;
46     our enemies curse us.
47 We are terrified and trapped,
    caught and crushed.”

48 My people are destroyed!
Tears flood my eyes,
49     and they won’t stop
50 until the Lord looks down
    from heaven and helps.
51 I am horrified when I see
    what enemies have done
to the young women of our city.

52 No one had reason to hate me,
but I was hunted down
    like a bird.
53 Then they tried to kill me
by tossing me into a pit
    and throwing stones at me.
54 Water covered my head—
    I thought I was gone.

55 From the bottom of the pit,
    I prayed to you, Lord.
56 I begged you to listen.
    “Help!” I shouted. “Save me!”
You answered my prayer
57 and came when I was in need.
    You told me, “Don’t worry!”
58 You rescued me
    and saved my life.
59 You saw them abuse me, Lord,
    so make things right.
60 You know every plot
    they have made against me.
61 Yes, you know their insults
    and their evil plans.
62 All day long they attack
    with words and whispers.
63 No matter what they are doing,
    they keep on mocking me.

64 Pay them back for everything
    they have done, Lord!
65 Put your curse on them
    and make them suffer.[e]
66 Get angry and go after them
until not a trace is left
    under the heavens.

Footnotes

  1. 3.11 shreds: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 11.
  2. 3.20 I am depressed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 3.22 destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 22.
  4. 3.29 lesson: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 29.
  5. 3.65 make them suffer: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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