April 3, 2020. Day 94: Great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23.

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.

These are some of the most beloved words in all of scripture. I’m sure you recognize them from the chorus of that great hymn of the faith:

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

What many don’t realize is that these great words of hope in the center of Lamentations are sandwiched by the intense pain, sorrow, and tragedy of Jerusalem’s destruction and the desolation of the people of Judah.

Listen to these words leading up to “great is your faithfulness”:

3:2. [God] has driven and brought me
    into darkness without any light;

3:8. though I call and cry for help,
    he shuts out my prayer;

3:17-18. 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.”

And these words after “great is your faithfulness”:

3:43-45. “You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
    killing without pity;
you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can pass through.
You have made us scum and garbage
    among the peoples.

Lamentations offers us entrance into the dual realities of this world. The reality of uncontrollable evil, unforgiven sin, inconsolable pain, intense sorrow, and death. But here in the center of Jeremiah’s lament, in the center of all this horror, is the competing reality of God’s abundant compassion and covenant love.

3:31-33. For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

Will Horton be faithful to the Who’s?

The question that Lamentations and life (especially life within a global pandemic) presents to us is, which of these realities will win in the end? Which will prevail? Evil or good? Death or love? Sin or compassion?

Before we answer, we must acknowledge both realities. The world is full of real evil – death, sin, sorrow, and pain. We cannot and should not “move on” in our suffering. To do so is to deny the reality that everything in this life takes place within the context of evil and sorrow. These times that we live in right now are vividly teaching us this lesson.

Also, we must resist trying to understand either one of these realities fully. Both are fully true, there is great evil, and there is a great God. And both are fully beyond our understanding. Questions like, “where does evil come from?” or “what is God’s specific purpose in this suffering?” may be unanswerable. We may never understand all of the reasons behind all of life’s pain.

But here’s what we can know (back to our original question): God will prevail over evil. God’s great faithfulness, his steadfast love and compassion, his new morning mercies, will never come to an end. They are unstoppable. Today’s great terrors cannot prevent tomorrow’s great mercy from our God. God’s life will always have the last word over death. God’s love will always cast out fear. God’s grace will always forgive our sins.

We know this because, just as there is hope and mercy at the center of Lamentations, the cross of Christ stands at center of all history. Before the cross there was immense pain, suffering, sin and death. And after the cross there will continue to be the same (today is living proof). But at the crux of time stands Christ. Like Jeremiah, the Man of Sorrows walked into our evil with the power of his unfailing goodness. He carried the cross of death on the shoulders of his eternal life. He bore our judgment, shedding the blood of God’s forgiveness.

And then on Easter morning he burst forth in the power of God’s great faithfulness with new mercies. New life. New hope. All from the same love and faithfulness that God has been showing to us since before time.

“To live is Christ” means that now this mercy, this life, this hope, lives in us. Christ’s life in us is the great faithfulness of God. Christ’s indwelling love is the mercy we receive afresh each day.

And now we say with the prophet:

Jeremiah 3:21-23. 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.

You

What are you lamenting today?

You in Christ

Has the great faithfulness of God in Christ given you hope in the midst of great evil? How?

Christ in you

How can you “call to mind” the faithfulness of Christ today?

God’s Faithfulness Playlist

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