Prepare to Listen. Light a candle of hope for the world. Be grateful for God’s faithfulness that is new every morning.
Prayerfully Read Lamentations 3:19-33
19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,
28 to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it,
29 to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),
30 to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.
31For the Lord will not reject for ever.
32 Although he causes grief,
he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.
In the middle of a book devoted to mourning and grieving are these few verses of confident faith. They’re probably the only verses in Lamentations with which most Christians are familiar. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We sing these words in our praise songs and in the chorus of the popular hymn, ‘Great is thy faithfulness.’ But we never sing any of the laments that surround these uplifting verses. As I read these verses again in the context of the lament that surrounds them, two things stood out for me.
My first thought is for those who struggle to believe, in their experience, that God truly loves them, that God’s mercies are new every morning. We often sing these words of praise to try and bolster our unsure faith in God’s love and mercy, but it doesn't help. Maybe because we’ve never honestly lamented and owned our struggles to believe in God’s steadfast love, especially when life throws its curve balls, we’ve never been able to come to terms with God’s great love for us. Honestly telling God the truth about what we think and feel will assure us of God’s love far more than singing the positive words of our hymns and praise songs. Only those who’ve shouted at God in anger or suffering or depression, discover and experience God’s love, because they discover that God remains with them, listening compassionately and doesn't rebuke them. He loves us and is merciful.
Second, I was encouraged by these words today. When we realized that the coronavirus had became a global deadly pestilence, I began praying, confident in God’s response. As the days have dragged into weeks, my confidence has weakened, my praying become less frequent. In the middle of a joyless and hopeless pandemic that requires lamenting, I needed to be assured that God’s mercies are new every morning. I will need to go back to these verses as I continue to lament. Perhaps you will too.
Lamentations' words of hopefulness aren’t hollow and neither do they deny suffering and pain. Those who know how to lament their hopelessness also know how to experience and rejoice in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness that is new every morning.
What words struck a chord in you from this passage? Let them sustain you in the days ahead as the crisis continues and we experience further losses.
Respond to Jesus
Indeed, you are a God of great faithfulness, a God of steadfast love. That’s why I bow before you each day with my laments for the world in this drama of a deadly pestilence we know as coronavirus. Strengthen me O Lord to live out of your steadfast love and faithfulness that is new every morning. Amen.