by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries
How does the prophet, Jeremiah, proclaim God’s great faithfulness when we find throughout the book of Jeremiah, the prophet over and over again warning the people of God’s coming judgement? And then we come to the book of Lamentations, which is a lament. In the Alexandrian form of the Greek Septuagint, the following words precede the first verse of Lamentations:
“And it came to pass, after Israel had been carried away captive, and Jerusalem became desolate, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem.”
When in a season of sorrow, it’s important to remember God’s faithfulness
The book is written with a sorrowful mind, with great sighing and moaning. It is written out of a broken heart for the nation that would not repent. Imagine that God has called you to be a prophet to His chosen people and to warn them of His coming judgment because of their idolatry and sin, but they refused to listen. Would you feel like you had failed God? Would you feel like you had failed your nation? Perhaps you would you go to bed at night wondering what else you could have done or said that might have made the people turn back to God?
If we can step into Jeremiah’s shoes, we can feel the broken heart with which he laments over what has happened and the sad events that resulted in him writing the five poems of lament that make up the book of Lamentations. (click to tweet) Yet, even in this season of lament and sorrow, we find in Lamentations 3:22-23 that Jeremiah remembers God’s faithfulness.
Jerusalem destroyed, but there is hope because of God’s faithfulness
In 586 B.C. the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple, palace and city – exactly as God said it would happen and Jeremiah had warned the people it would happen. The book also alludes to the famine in Jerusalem, the breach of the city walls, the exile of the people, the looting of the temple, and the execution of the leaders.
Yet even in all this, we can also find hope because of God’s great faithfulness. In Chapter 3, verses 22-23, Jeremiah issues a remarkable testimony to the extent of divine grace. Right in the middle of the five chapters of lamenting and weeping, there is a ray of hope and sunshine and in the midst of Jeremiah’s depression and despondency, he teaches us about the unceasing mercies of God. (click to tweet) From these two verses, we learn four important characteristic of God that can bring hope to all of us no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in: God is steadfast, loving, merciful, and faithful.
Four characteristics of the faithfulness of God that brings hope in any circumstance
Characteristic 1: God’s faithfulness is because of His great love for us
Verse 22 begins with God’s lovingkindness, or in the NIV Bible, we find that it is because of God’s great love that we are not consumed by the righteous and holy God. The Holman Bible Dictionary notes that the Hebrew word, chesed, is the Old Testament’s highest expression for love and refers to God’s election, covenant-keeping, or steadfast love. It is a love that remains constant regardless of circumstances. It doesn’t matter how much I love God or if I choose to turn my back and walk away from God, God will always love me – even enough to send Jesus to die for my sins while I was still his enemy (Romans 5:8). (Click to tweet)
God’s faithfulness never ends because his great love never ends
The next thing we find is that God’s lovingkindness never ends. It is steadfast. To be steadfast, is to be resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. It is loyal, committed, and dependable. It is enduring patiently, reliable, true to the end. God’s love for us never ceases. He ALWAYS loves. In fact, 1 John 4:8 says that God IS love. It part of who He is. (Click to tweet)
Characteristic 2: We can depend on God’s faithfulness because his compassion never ends
We also find that God’s compassion never fail. Some translations use the word “compassion” and some use “mercies.” The Hebrew word translated here mercies is used 250 times in the Old Testament. It is a sweeping, all-inclusive term for God’s love, goodness, forgiveness, compassion, and faithfulness. Even in the bleakness of God’s discipline, there was hope. Judah would not be permanently destroyed, but ultimately restored.
Mercy is a characteristic and action that comes from the very nature of God and is the foundation of forgiveness. Mercy from God is never given based on our merit, but as God’s gift to us. (Click to tweet) It is His unending mercy that allows us to come into His presence day after day, sin after sin, to seek His forgiveness. Exodus 34:6-7 says, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”
God’s justice and righteousness cannot be overlooked. Israel, learned this the hard way. We can’t expect to continuously live any way we want, ignoring God and then run and ask forgiveness and expect that at some point God doesn’t step in with justice and righteousness. (click to tweet)
Characteristic 3: God’s mercy renews every morning
But there is another thing we can see about God’s mercy – it renews every morning. Every day, God has a new supply of mercy. He will never run out. He doesn’t use it all up on one person and then doesn’t have enough for me. And because He is merciful, he offers a way of salvation rather than leaving us dead in our trespasses and sin. (click to tweet) Salvation is God’s merciful act of withholding His wrath and eternal punishment woven with His grace in granting both forgiveness of sin and trading our sin for eternal life. There is absolutely nothing we can do to get God’s mercy. Romans 9:15-16 says, “I will show mercy to whom I show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Mercy is 100% dependent on God who chooses to show mercy. We can make no claim on God’s mercies. They are completely undeserved – and yet they never cease. Like Israel, we have done much to provoke God’s anger and abused His mercy. We have ignored it and turned our backs on it and are just a haughty as Israel was in thinking that God will not judge. But at times, God’s judgment is also His mercy towards us because His chastisement is more merciful than allowing us to continue down a path that will bring us harm. God will always adapt the expression and action of His mercy towards us so that it meets our immediate need – even if that mercy comes in the form of judgment.
Characteristic 4: God is faithful and because of his faithfulness he offers us great love and mercy
The fourth thing we see about God is that he is faithful. He is trustworthy and dependable. We may fall short and miss the mark, but God never will. He will always be faithful to offer us His great love and mercy. (Click to tweet) From the first sin in the garden of Eden all the way down through time to today, God’s unmistakable pattern is seen over and over again: Sin and disobedience brings consequences, but confession and repentance always brings forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. (click to tweet)
It is difficult to fully understand the depth of God’s faithfulness
It can be difficult for us to fully understand the depth of God’s faithfulness because we live in a world filled with broken promises and disappointment. We have, at times, even been guilty of breaking promises and disappointing both God and others. But when we take the time to acknowledge the times in our life where God has been faithful, we can be reminded of just how great His faithfulness is towards us. We can remember how He has provided for our needs, given us courage when we were afraid, loved us when it seemed as if everyone else had turned their backs on us, sent us a brother or sister in Christ with a word of encouragement just when we needed it, and when he was faithful to us when no one else was.
In difficult times, we can experiences God’s faithfulness and great love
Jeremiah lived through a very dark, depressing, overwhelmingly difficult time. We can experience our own difficult days and just as God’s lovingkindness reached out to Jeremiah and His mercies did not fail and God’s faithfulness came shining through in the darkness, so He does for us in the middle of our circumstances. Take some time to reflect on the faithfulness of God and His lovingkindness and mercy that never ends.
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce
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