The Importance of Pronouns
Recently, I discovered an important lesson in the book of Lamentations from my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) questions. Upon observing the pronouns used in the different chapters of Lamentations, some things became clear in chapter 3 that impacts my life and how I live.
Most scholars consider Jeremiah to be the author of Lamentations. So, in Lamentations 3:1-20, the pronouns “I” and “me” refer to Jeremiah. These particular pronouns occur 30 times in the first 20 verses of chapter 3. Furthermore, “my” occurs 18 times in these verses. The references to God in verses 3:1-20 focus on retelling the devastation Jeremiah has experienced from God’s hand. In summary, in the first 20 verses, Jeremiah looks inwardly and perceives a hopeless situation stemming from desolate circumstances and his personal suffering.
Then everything changes in Lamentations 3:21, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope” as Jeremiah shifts his eyes from his circumstances and sufferings to God! The previous 20 verses detailed Jeremiah’s bemoaning of the destruction that had befallen Judah as a result of their turning away from God. In the first 20 verses, God is painted only as a wrathful God. But once Jeremiah begins to look up to God instead of nursing his suffering (which was very real!), he sees God in a fuller, richer way.
Jeremiah recounts God as steadfast, love, merciful, faithful, good, savior, compassionate, Most High, powerful, sovereign, just, attentive, and near. As Jeremiah reminds himself of who God is, his courage and hope swell up. His circumstances did not change, but his perspective did. His courage and hope are no longer found in his circumstances but in his God. He stops being guided by his feelings, and let’s his mind guide him (“But this I call to mind”).
Have you noticed that feelings are currently driving our culture? People don’t feel like they were born in the right body, so they attempt to change it. Or a mother doesn’t feel like she wants a baby that she is carrying in her womb, so she gets an abortion. Or a teen doesn’t feel worthy or valued, so she commits suicide. Or you don’t feel you love your spouse anymore, so you get a divorce. Or maybe you don’t feel valued, so you assume no one cares about you.
Feelings are tainted by sin and cannot be trusted to represent reality; however, feelings can be used by God to direct our attention to underlying issues. For example, my recent feeling that a stranger treated me with disdain helped my see my pride that wants to be honored by all. After counseling my mind with who God is—He is holy, good, wise, powerful, Most High, and sovereign—my perspective changed. Being valued and honored by people should not be my reason for joy, but it should be to know, love, enjoy God and bring Him glory for He is worthy. It’s not about me being seen worthy in other’s eyes, it’s about God being glorified!
Because He is holy, He calls me to be a clean vessel and live at peace with all as far as possible (Rom 12:18). I prayed and asked God to forgive me for resenting the person disdaining me and to allow me to connect with this person for a good conversation. So, the next day I connected with this person (there were over 1000 people at the conference and all going to different breakout sections!) and I was able to have a healing conversation with her. Reflecting on who God is took my eyes off myself and on to God and what He desired in this relationship.
Lamentations 3:21 reminds me to have a mind filled with who God is and His truths for the Holy Spirit to draw upon. Furthermore Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” commands me to renew my mind for transformation. If God did not want me to use my mind to know Him, then He would not have left me His Word with commands like, Matthew 22:37-38, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Our minds play a significant role in our relationship with God!
So, through observing the pronouns in Lamentations 3, I noticed Jeremiah’s focus moved from himself to God. And with that movement came hope! Moving from self to God impacts my perspective on life and how I live. What circumstances or sufferings are you and I fixating on? How can we shift our focus from circumstances/suffering to God and receive the hope and guidance that God offers? What are you and I intentionally doing to put who God is, and other truths, into our minds so the Holy Spirit has truth to draw upon?
Consider listening to the pronouns you use in your mind. The heavy use of “I” and “me” indicate focus on self. Let’s replace those “I”s and “me”s with who God is and fixate on Him!
 Image from “When to Use I or Me?” accessed April 29, 2023, https://www.econtentpro.com/blog/when-to-use-i-or-me/1.