22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. 26 It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young.
28 Let him sit alone and be silent, for God has disciplined him. 29 Let him put his mouth in the dust — perhaps there is still hope. 30 Let him offer his cheek to the one who would strike him; let him be filled with shame. 31 For the Lord will not reject us forever. 32 Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love. 33 For He does not enjoy bringing affliction or suffering on mankind.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Lamentations 3:22-23 is a well-known passage among Christians, and is the source text for the great hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” by Thomas O. Chisholm. It is often quoted in times of spontaneous praise when the Lord has done something wonderful and His people are rejoicing over His goodness. It might seem odd, then, that such a powerful Scripture on hope and God’s faithfulness comes smack in the middle of a book that is rightfully regarded as one of the most depressing in the Bible.
Jeremiah wrote Lamentations after he saw Jerusalem completely devastated by the Babylonians. He knew God had pronounced divine judgment on His people as a result of their continual disobedience and idol worship. He had been God’s spokesman for forty years, never giving up on the call for repentance, even when it was obvious that no one wanted to hear his message.
But in the middle of his lengthy poem lamenting the loss of Jerusalem, he suddenly breaks into praise for God’s faithfulness and His mercy. It seems confusing until we look at the big picture.
Sometimes God’s children suffer by no fault of their own. During those times, faith is tested because we don’t always understand right away (or maybe ever) what God’s purpose has been in allowing us to go through such a trial.
But as we draw close to the Lord and seek Him for help in our circumstances, He is always faithful to draw close to us and teach us something new about His character and to bring us into a deeper walk with Him. Friends who have suffered through great illnesses have told me how it was during their solitude and moments of feeling alone that the Lord was so faithful to cover them with His presence and peace.
Other times, though, our suffering comes as a result of our own disobedience and bad choices. It is during those times that we can feel the most isolated because we aren’t usually quick to share with others what it is we’ve done that has brought us into this mess. Whether we are facing really difficult consequences or just burdened with the knowledge of our own depravity, what are we to do?
Jeremiah’s advice is to wait quietly before the Lord and to seek Him, because the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him. Picture a child who has disobeyed and is sent to his room to think about what he has done while he waits for his father to get home. The purpose in having that child sit, wait and think is to give him some time to realize the error of his ways and repent.
Jeremiah is saying the same thing. It is good to sit before the Lord and confess our sin to Him. Why? Because a child sincerely confessing to his father and asking for his forgiveness brings out the love and compassion of the father more than anything else. This is why Jeremiah can say, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Hebrews 12:10-11 tells us that God disciplines His children for their own good, to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Think back on a time in your life when you were suffering because of disobedience and sin in your life. Spend time thanking God for His righteous discipline and for His never-failing compassions.
If you are currently going through a period of suffering, have you taken the time to sit quietly before the Lord and seek His counsel? If your suffering is a result of sin, are you ready to confess and praise the Lord for His unfailing compassion? If not, consider the consequences of hanging on to your sin and ask the Lord to make you ready to relinquish it.