Monday, November 23, 2009

Singing Songs of Hope Amidst Laments

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24)

The verses above are well-known. Perhaps they are in your list of favorites. They are so popular that I could immediately recall two of the most treasured songs in Christianity:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
(Thomas Chisholm, 1923)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
New every morning.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord.
Great is Thy faithfulness
(Robert Davidson, 1975)

Perhaps you have sang them yourselves on a wonderful morning when the sunrise is breathtakingly beautiful and the fragrance of the trees’ blossoms fill the air as the wind blows gently. Birds tweet sweetly as if they were saying that all is well. Indeed, we should thank God for days such as these.

But could you sing those songs when you wake up in the morning and the sun is covered by dark clouds; the wind blows violently, the branches are broken the blossoms are scattered in the mud. Tweeting is heard no more as birds are nowhere to be found. Could you sing songs about the Lord’s love, mercy, and grace amidst the storms of life?

If we would understand the context of Lamentations 3:22-24, we can, yes we can sing not just when all things are bright and beautiful but also when the days are filled with extreme pain.

The early rabbis were the first ones to call this book lamentations—“loud cries”. The title in Tagalog bibles “Panaghoy” captures the idea perfectly. The book is composed of five laments (1:1-22; 2:1-22; 3:1-66; 4:1-22; 5:1-22). The writer (the scholarly consensus is it's Jeremiah) reflects it himself: “My eyes overflow with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people” (3:48).

Jerusalem was sieged by the enemy; there was famine in the city; the walls were broken and the enemy penetrates. The beautiful city was consumed by flames and the sacred things in the temple were looted.

It was such a very dark period in the nation’s history. Yet they deserved it. Jeremiah’s four decades of preaching and warning fell on deaf ears. They despised the word of the Lord for 40 years and now, they are paying the consequences.

Halfway through the laments, 3:22-24 appears as a ray of hope. Here, God reveals that though he must punish them, he did not abandoned them. I’m drawing three points from these verses:

1. The sustaining power of God’s mercy and love
We are not consumed” because of his mercies. They were suffering much but they were not totally destroyed because of God’s sustaining love. We may go though all the pains but God does not intend destruction upon our souls. Restoration of hearts wounded by sin is what he has in mind (Jeremiah 29:11).

2. The Unending Supply of God’s Compassion
His compassions “never fail” and “they are new every morning”. God’s blessing yesterday was awesome enough. Yet The blessings he give are not drawn from yesterday. He doesn’t give recycled compassion but they are new every morning appropriate for our current situation.

3. The Sufficiency of God in times of Distress
“The Lord is my portion” says my soul (3:24). A portion usually means “landed property, which was foundational to economic stability in ancient Israel” (NET Bible). Jeremiah looked around and everything that he treasured is now gone. The economic glories of the nation and of the people had been reduced to ashes. Yet Jeremiah says he doesn’t need those stuff. All he needs is the Lord so he waits upon the Lord his hope.


  1. Your post is very timely. I am reminded that whatever is our situation, God is still God. He never forgets His own. A line of a song I learned when I was just a kid (now I don't know the whole lyrics nor its title nor the singer) rings back: "I've never seen a righteous forsaken". Thank God for this post and thank God He reminds me to visit your blog tonight. God bless you.

  2. Thanks for visiting this blog Anna. I delivered an oral version of this post yesterday at GLCC-Dagupan as an exhortation before we sang our songs. I was blessed by it myself so I posted it here. If it will serve as a blessing to other people also, then my joy is multiplied. God bless you to sister!