By Scott Lawton
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 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.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. – Lamentations 3:21-25
As we might expect based on the name, the book of Lamentations is filled with…laments. But what exactly was the prophet Jeremiah lamenting? Lamentations mourns the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and the exile of Israel, which Jeremiah acknowledges to be God’s just judgment on the sin of his people.
Jeremiah had proclaimed the Lord’s coming judgment, then lived through it. In Lamentations, he pours out his grief over Israel’s failure to turn back to the Lord and the just wrath of God on the city. He also mourns his own personal sufferings. In addition to living through the siege of Jerusalem and all the pain that accompanied it, he endured threats, conspiracies, imprisonment, and more. Chapter 3 is most likely either an expression of sorrow over Jeremiah’s personal suffering or an individualized expression of the grief of the whole community. And what suffering it was! The language Jeremiah uses is graphic and culminates by saying, “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.’” (vv. 17-18)
But in the middle of this book, and this chapter full of great sorrow, suffering, and judgment, we find verses 21-25. When all seems bitter and hopeless, Jeremiah remembers the character of God and finds hope and confidence. Even in the midst of judgment, God’s love and mercy do not change and do not cease. Far from it! They are new every morning. How much more do we know that to be true on this side of the cross! “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) If we are in Christ, we know a depth of love and mercy that Jeremiah hoped for, but only saw from a distance.
In this fallen world, we will all experience suffering as a result of sin. Sometimes it will be a consequence of a specific sin of ours; sometimes it will be a result of someone else’s sin; sometimes it will simply be a result of the curse and living in a world that groans in bondage to decay.
COVID-19 is just one example of these hardships. But whatever we endure, we can be confident that the Lord does not change. His steadfast love in Christ never ceases. He has new mercies for us this morning; he will provide them again tomorrow morning; and he will grant them every morning thereafter. He is good to those who wait on him, so let us wait and hope. Great is his faithfulness!