“"Great is Your Faithfulness"”
Despite the example of the northern nation of Israel (cf. Jeremiah 3:6-10), and numerous warnings from God with calls to repentance, Judah was carried into Babylonian captivity. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Lamentations is a book of dirges reflecting on the destruction witnessed by the prophet. However, the darkness of the book is penetrated by light of the unfailing love and faithfulness of God. It honestly assesses great tragedy while framing it in God’s lovingkindness. Jeremiah accepts the righteous actions of God toward His rebellious people but struggles under the weight of His wrath. However, he expresses his faith that the Lord’s compassions outweigh great sorrow.
While the book concerns a people severely punished for unfaithfulness it provides a standard of facing tragedy and turmoil with confidence in God. God’s unfailing mercies, compassions, and His great faithfulness will bring those who turn to Him out of despair, be it the consequences of sin, or the frailty of life under the sun. Lamentations 3:19-33 contains a powerful message we would do well to meditate on.
Cast Your Care Upon the Lord (vv. 19-21)
“Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.”
In verse 18, Jeremiah said, “My strength and my hope have perished from the Lord.” This was not expressing a lack of faith but was an honest take on the experience of his suffering. He then approaches God with his great affliction, and inward turmoil. He casts his cares upon God (cf. 1 Peter 5:7). He has hope knowing this recollection brings his troubles before the One who can alleviate them.
Hope in the Lord (vv. 22-24)
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”
Even in this great hour of affliction the writer finds a ray of light. The fact that the people are not entirely consumed is evidence of the mercies of God which proceed from His unfailing compassion. There is a constant renewal of the mercies and compassions of God each morning. Even in time of great suffering He is expressing His faithfulness as One who cares for His people. Jeremiah realizes that regardless of the circumstances God is all he needs, and he hopes in Him.
Wait for the Lord (vv. 25-27)
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.”
Hoping in God and waiting for Him go hand in hand. Waiting for God is an action of faith. It is the quiet persistence of trust that God’s intentions for His people are always pure and beneficial, and therefore maintains fidelity to Him in the hour of trial. The people of God were experiencing their greatest trial yet and needed to bear it faithfully for God to carry out His will for them in it. For this reason, it is good to be practiced in bearing the yoke of affliction even in youth.
Humble Yourself Before the Lord (vv. 28-29)
“Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him;
Let him put his mouth in the dust—
There may yet be hope.
Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,
And be full of reproach.”
In such a trial what remains to be done is a humble acceptance of the plight (cf. Job 1:20-22). It is not a sign defeat, but of the reverence of faith and hope in God. He remains in control, and we must remain under His control. It is not in the resistance of the trial that we find victory in Him, but in the quiet and confident endurance of it.
The Lord Will Lift You Up (vv. 31-33)
“For the Lord will not cast off forever.
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.”
The faithful waiting and hoping in the God of unfailing mercies, compassions, and great faithfulness does not end in disappointment. The progression leads to grounds for comfort. First, the sorrow and anguish will end. Nothing is forever on this side of eternity. Second, where immense grief is borne, the compassion of God is overwhelming. His allowance of affliction is not with absence of His care. Finally, the suffering brings God no amount of joy. It is used by Him to produce the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). His wisdom comprehends the unsearchable realities of eternity and merits our confidence. His faithfulness is truly great! Hope in Him!