Lamentations 3:17-24 (ESV)
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
It is worth so very much to hear a passage of Scripture in its context. Certain passages are especially meaningful when we see what is happening when they are said.
Looking above at verses 17-20, we are reminded that Jeremiah is miserable. He has spent all of the first twenty verses in great sorrow and pain. He feels that his hope is gone. He feels afflicted by God. The prophet has been crushed by his pains and his circumstances. He has watched with his own eyes the horrific destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple that Solomon built. He has seen that which he treasured most fall.
It is only at verse 21 that we begin to see that something is changing. Of course, it is not Jeremiah’s situation that is changing. Rather, it is Jeremiah’s focus that is changing. He turns his thoughts to the character of the Lord. God’s mercies are made new every day. And, in the latter line of verse 23, Jeremiah declares, “Great is your faithfulness.”
That phrase, of course, is the refrain of a popular hymn, one that I love. How often have we sung “Great is Thy Faithfulness?” But how seldom do we remember that this line is not one sung out of a position of prosperity? Jeremiah is not happy. He is hurting greatly. Yet, in the middle of his pain, in the middle of his sorrow, in the middle of the loss of a nation that he loves, Jeremiah remembers the character of God enough to declare, “Great is your faithfulness.” The trust that Jeremiah places in the person of God shines all the brighter because it is offset against the backdrop of the dark sufferings and sorrows of the fall of Jerusalem.
Where are you in life? Are you in a place of ease? Are you in a place of sorrow? God knows. God cares. God is faithful. His character does not change, whether life is treating us gently or harshly. God is good. His faithfulness is steadfast. And we, like Jeremiah, need to find our hope, not in our present situation, but in the perfect character of the Lord. His faithfulness is great, and all the greater in our pain.