Hello Church Family,
I hope you’re having a good week! This week I’d like to finish the thought I started last week about our faith and God’s faithfulness. We closed last week by asking the question, “when do we most struggle with believing that God is faithful?”
To answer that question I wanted to look at Lamentations 3. If you started reading in verse 1 you might be shocked at what you see. “I am the man who has seen affliction…” Verse 4 “He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones…”
It goes on and on with this language for several verses. Look at verse 8 “though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.” Have you ever felt that way? This writer is describing the way a person feels when God seems distant. When you feel like you’re being judged by the Lord. Alienated. Driven away.
So abandoned does this writer feel that he doesn’t even mention God’s name. That’s how cut off he thinks He is. Like a prisoner in a dungeon. I’d call it a “dark night of the soul.”
Skip down to Lamentations 3:16-18 “He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.”
What’s he saying? He’s saying, “I don’t know if I can still believe that God is faithful.” Have you ever been there? It’s okay to admit. You may be there right now. I want you to know that there’s a way out of that despair. Look at the transition in verse 21. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…”
In other words, “when I Iook around me/above me/below me I find no reason to have hope in the Lord. But, when I look behind me…when I remember… then I have hope.”
What does he remember? Verse 22 “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.”
Steadfast Love. Unfailing mercy. Faithfulness. Those are the reasons that this author is able to rediscover his hope in the midst of suffering. Let’s take a look at what those words mean.
The first reason for the renewal of hope is the “steadfast love” of the LORD. It’s literally the Lord’s hessed love. Covenant love. Loyal love. Love that never runs out. Love that is unconditional.
The word hessed could also be translated faithful. Especially when you relate that to the covenant between God and Israel. In that covenant God basically said, “if you honor the commitments of the covenant I’ll love you. If you dishonor them, I’ll still love you. I’ll pay the price of a broken covenant either way.”
Another reason for the renewal of his hope is God’s never failing mercy or compassions. The word is related to the womb of a mother. It speaks to the tender and caring love that moms have for their kids. My wife and I are new parents and I can testify to this in my wife. There’s an unending supply of tenderness and love for our son, Blaise.
The reversal in attitude is striking! Earlier the writer accused God of cruelty and faithlessness. Now he is exalting God’s love and faithfulness. This is like the only known verse in the whole book of Lamentations. It so popular that they wrote a hymn on it entitled “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Even in the midst of chaos and depression, the writer rediscovers his faith in God. Why? Because he remembers the covenant. When he says “Great is your faithfulness” he uses the word “AMAN” It’s where we get our word “Amen.”
In the NT it’s sometimes translated “true truth.” “Truly truly I say to you…” When Jesus says that he means you can take it to the bank. What I’m telling you is reliable. You can be assured. God is faithful.
He is faithful NOT to utterly destroy but to ultimately restore. He made that promise to Abraham. He made it to Moses. And he made good on both promises. That’s what gives the author hope.
Thankfully, we have something even better than that to anchor our hope. The Old Covenant is great but the New Covenant is better. Jesus speaks a better word. Next week, I’ll share how we discover in the Gospel the kind of hope that the author of Lamentations found in the covenants of the Old Testament patriarchs.