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.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations. 3:22-24)
For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone. (Lamentations 3:31-33)
Lamentations is a book of suffering. It is a collection of poems of lament over the destruction of Jerusalem and the children of Israel being led into captivity by the Babylonians — something God allowed to happen because of their disobedience in going after other gods. It was God’s last resort. Repeatedly He warned them and tried to get them to repent and turn back to Him, but nothing doing, so He finally had to use the Babylonians to punish them. You could say He got their attention, and the poems in this book are a chronicle of their suffering experience.
Lamentations is in our Bibles because we suffer too. Suffering is a part of life. It may not always be tied to sin and disobedience as it was here, but this is not about figuring out anything about suffering. It’s not about why we suffer, nor is it about getting out of suffering; it’s about experiencing suffering and getting through it.
There is a sacred dignity to human suffering. It aligns us with what is true about ourselves and about God. It teaches us humility. It teaches us trust. And in the third chapter of these Lamentations, we find the only hopeful part of this whole book. This is where the prophet reminds himself about God’s lovingkindness, His faithfulness, His compassion, and about the fact that God doesn’t get any kicks out of bringing affliction or grief to anyone. He does not do this willingly, but because it is part of the laws of the universe He Himself created. And His compassion will win out in the end. “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.” (3:32)
We are going through a time of suffering now due to this pandemic. If we follow the example of the prophets and the poets of Israel, we will find out what to do.
- Agree with God and everyone else that this sucks.
- Cry out to God.
- Remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness regardless of what we are going through.
- Wait patiently.
“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’” (3:24)