Joy in Lamentations

I was not very familiar with the Book of Lamentations until I was introduced to a Scripture song from the book about 45 years ago. That short song includes only two verses, but has been fixed in my mind and been an inspiration to me all these years. I’ll quote the song for you below but first I want to share a little background about the book of Lamentations.

It has only five chapters and is assumed to be written by the prophet Jeremiah.  It is in between the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel and features details about the suffering of God’s people when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, destroying the temple and taking its people captive and turning them into refugees.  Permitting this to happen was God’s way of dealing with His people because of their willful sin and rebellion.  Verse after verse refers to their affliction with words like weakness, famine disgrace, mourning, bitterness and grief.  It’s pretty depressing.  At first I thought that Jeremiah’s situation seemed a bit more extreme than ours, but on second thought I can recognize the same things going on today in our own country and around the world.  We don’t know what the future, this new year, holds for our physical lives socially, financially, environmentally, or healthwise. In the middle of Lamentations, after 2 1/2 chapters of laments Jeremiah sums up with these words beginning in 3:17 – “Peace has been stripped away.  I have forgotten what prosperity is…all that I had hoped for from the Lord is lost.  The thought of my affliction and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time as I grieve my loss.”

But then he continues with these words of encouragement:  

“Yet I still have hope when I remember this –  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning.  Great is thy faithfulness!”

Let’s look more deeply into each of those words. 
“Steadfast” is not a common word in today’s vocabulary.  It means immoveable or unchangeable, rock solid. 

“Love” is found together with other words from Galatians 5 about the Fruit of the Spirit: showing patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, also being caring, showing unconditional acceptance, being trustworthy, and more. I think of God’s love shown in John 3:16.

What about “mercies?”  I think of compassion, grace, tolerance, and understanding.

How about never “ceasing?” It’s hard to think of anything in our physical world that fits into this category.  No one has yet to my knowledge invented a perpetual motion machine.  Everything we own eventually wears out, changes, spoils, dies, needs recharging…  The same is true of relationships, physical strength, basic needs, weather, politics …

“New” implies a steady flow of, something fresh, something repeated.

“Faithfulness” means God’s unwavering allegiance to us

In short, we can be assured that God continually supplies all of our spiritual needs today and always. We have a choice as we face the future. We can focus on the laments, and there are plenty of them, personal and international, and we should be in prayer about them, but not let them overwhelm us with grief, anger, or fear.  Rather, let us remember to join with Jeremiah and focus on the steadfast, immovable, unchanging love and mercy that is new every morning supplied by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is eternally faithful.  I pray that your future be filled with the peace and joy that only God can supply.

Written by Sue Found, January 2023

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