God Is Our Portion
Dear God, I thank You today for your changelessness. You are steadfast, reliable, and the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Read Lamentations 3:1-33
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psa. 85:6). God’s spirit is a reviving Spirit.
Chapter 3 is different from the first two. It’s longer, as you may have noticed, with three verses rather than two for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It moves from an impassioned reaction toward personal affliction caused by coming to terms with being in exile. At the heart of it (22-33) is an impressive hymn of hope in God wrung out of the bitterness of defeat.
To begin with, though, the author is working out what is going on when God appears to be our antagonist rather than our friend and protector. If Jacob experienced God as a man, (Gen. 32:24-28) the author of Lamentations finds him like a wild animal (10) or an enemy archer (13). Yet, while it seems as though God isn’t even listening to his prayers (8), somewhere he can find cause for hope again. And what he finds is precisely what he needs in order to cope with exile. In v. 24 his soul realizes that the Lord is his portion. “Portion” here is the parcel of the Promised Land that all except the priestly class received; to Aaron, God said “I am your share.” (Num. 18:20). The exile can’t take his land with him, and that is part of the humiliation (19); if the Lord is his portion, he can take with him, and inside him, that which cannot be taken away by any invading army.
The theodicy (defense of God’s justice) that is at the heart of this chapter is not a matter of doing the math—whereby Israel would be getting a precise punishment for its disobedience, offset by the new relationship with God that emerges from repentance. The repeated “it is good” of vs. 26 and 27 indicates that there is some purpose when we suffer—but it often still remains a mystery.
How has God’s love been “new every morning” (23) for you? Pray that again today it will be fresh for you, not just a memory of past refreshments.
Mighty God, You’re the end of all my beginnings. I seek to begin again with You today, to trust Your good purposes, no matter what I face. Thank You, Lord.