Bitter but Blessed
Holy Father, You work through human agents like me, who feel of little consequence and limited ability. Continue to use me, I pray.
Read Lamentations 3:1-33
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with thee” (Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960).
The mood changes. The speaker here is a man who in his own personal pain mirrors something of the pain of Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for man here implies a man of strength or valor; his condition is thus the more poignant. Earlier commentators frequently saw him as pointing forward to Christ, and there are some parallels.
This chapter offers a sense of hope that is absent elsewhere in Lamentations. It is not surprising that verses 22 and 23 are perhaps the best known in the whole book. The whole chapter seems to have a different feel and is seen as the center of the book’s argument. The author knew that grief does not follow a straightforward course. There are moments of deep despair and blackness, but there are also shafts of light. Sometimes God seems a million miles away, but at other times we recover a sense of his presence and receive comfort.
God may have acted in anger, but anger is not God’s natural disposition. Judgment, as Isaiah points out, is his “strange work” (Isa. 28:21); he does not bring it willingly (33). It is only ever a temporary response to particular circumstances, in this case his people’s sin. It will not last forever (31-32). What will survive is his unfailing love–the word in verse 32 (chesed) implies covenant faithfulness. From the perspective of the new covenant, we can be assured that God’s very nature is love (1 John 4:16). It is those he loves whom he disciplines (Heb. 12:6), although this is not a word we can hear in the depths of pain, still less one that we should offer too readily to others in their suffering.
Reflect on your own failures, and thank God that his love and faithfulness mean that he will not let you go.
Lord, in You alone is true hope. I look to you alone in the midst of the catastrophes of life. Shed Your amazing grace on me.