“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).
This quotation is an example of a well-known Old Testament passage with a lesser-known context. The author doesn’t write these words after a military victory or following a worship service. He writes them in the midst of a woeful lament, mourning the destruction of Jerusalem.
Lamentations may be the most depressing book in the entire Bible, and though hope is thin and disappearing, hope can still be found in a faithful God. His steadfast, unfailing love does not begin and end with the genesis and conclusion of our happiest times. It is instead like a mighty ship that bears us across the calmer waters, and upholds us when “sea billows roll.”
I love the statement of the writer that God’s mercies are new every morning. Every morning, the sun rises, we awaken from sleep, open our eyes, and draw breath. Even God allowing us to continue living is a great mercy on His part.
The fall of Jerusalem was the result of an unrepentant, sinful nation continuously defying their Creator God. “I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices” (Is. 65:2). Grave consequences and judgment came as a result of that rebellion, but Israel’s gracious and merciful God was still calling them to repent and return to Him.
God’s love, His mercy, and His faithfulness are most clearly seen in Jesus’ incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. The hope that we experience and share is centered on Christ and His work of salvation. When we look at our society and world, we should lament the death, abuse, wickedness and destruction that we see. We can be prone to anxiety, worry, and fear when faced with so many seemingly hopeless situations. But what does the Apostle John tell us? “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). God’s perfect love, marvelously displayed in Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf, can restore hope where none should be found.
How can we spread that hope to those around us? We can pray for God’s kingdom to come (Luke 11:2). We can seek to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8). Most importantly, we can seek opportunities to share about the God who so loved us that He sent His only Son for us (John 3:16).