Great Is Thy Faithfulness

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:21-23

I love this passage; it is filled with hope and healing for the broken spirit. But have you read the verses before verse 21? They're depressing!

Lamentations 3:1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
Lamentations 3:2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.
Lamentations 3:3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.
Lamentations 3:4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.
Lamentations 3:5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.
Lamentations 3:6 He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.
Lamentations 3:7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.
Lamentations 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.
Lamentations 3:9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:10 He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.
Lamentations 3:11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.
Lamentations 3:12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.
Lamentations 3:13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
Lamentations 3:14 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
Lamentations 3:15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.
Lamentations 3:16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
Lamentations 3:17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
Lamentations 3:19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
Lamentations 3:20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

Have you ever felt like this? I have! Verses 21-23 wouldn't be half as beautiful and refreshing without the artfully but painfully written verses previous. After taking in verse 1-20, we see the remainder of the passage in a whole new light:

Lamentations 3:21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
Lamentations 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Wait a minute... at first Jeremiah is lamenting over the affiction that apparently God has led him to, then suddenly begins rejoicing over His faithfulness. Isn't this kind of strange? Why would God allow all of these awful things to happen to Jeremiah? Why would Jeremiah go from "he shutteth out my prayer" one minute to "his compassions fail not" the next?

My view of God was brought back into focus when I took a closer look at these verses. We are wicked sinners and deserve nothing better than the sufferings of verses 1-20. In fact, we not only deserve this, but eternity in Hell, too. It is only by God's infinite mercies that we are spared of our rightful wages. I think back to a time in my life when things were so bad, I felt like I could have written verses 1-20; then I think of what the justice of God would have required me to pay, had it not been for Calvary. There, God showed His never-ending mercy and amazing grace when Jesus bore the punishment for all my sin and laid my every burden and heartache upon Himself.

God deals with us, not according to what we deserve, but according to his faithfulness. Trials are no fun, but are a cakewalk when we compare them to what we really deserve. We have done nothing to merit the favor of God, yet He continues to bless us out of the abundance of His tender mercies. He is so patient with us, isn't He? It is because of His never-failing compassions we are not consumed. Great is His faithfulness!

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