“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
– Lamentations 3:22 & 23
The book of Lamentations is a book of five poetic laments. Scholars think that this collection of laments comes from the late 6th Century B.C. after the destruction of Jerusalem. Remember that in ancient Israel, Jerusalem is the holy city. The temple, where all good Jews go to offer their sacrifices on the high holy days, is located in this city. The destruction of this city is tantamount to the destruction of their very lives.
When you have a bad day, pick up the book of Lamentations and you will find a voice for all that is causing your despair. It opens with the words “How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!” We can relate to those words. We have seen Times Square looking completely deserted as well as the streets of our own beloved Chicago. The deep sorrow and despair of this book rings out in every verse. “The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan.” We hear the echo of our own voices when March Madness was cancelled and the baseball season and the end of the NBA and NHL seasons. We are still wondering about all the summer festivals and fall football.
“All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength.” We hear the reports of tens of thousands of people waiting in lines to get a box of food for the week. We have seen the video clips. We have heard the families repeatedly. “I have never had to do this before.” For the first time in my life, I witnessed empty shelves in several different grocery stores.
Yet, right in the middle of the agonizing laments we find the words of one of the most familiar Christian hymns ever written, Great is Thy Faithfulness. In the third poem, the poet suddenly writes, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” Hmmm. Cancelled sporting events. 22 million people out of work. Small businesses drowning in debt. Endless days in our own homes without the simple pleasures of playing golf or going to church or shopping (for something besides food). In the middle of all those very good reasons to lament, the poet reminds us of the faithfulness of God. The writer goes on “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
In these seemingly endless days, may the Lord be your portion. May we all remember that the faithfulness of God never ends and God’s mercies are indeed new every morning.
If you want to hear the familiar hymn you can watch this Youtube video: