Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 10 2019 - Lamentations 3:1-33 – Waiting in hope

In this chapter we hear the complaint of a man who has endured great suffering, which he believes has been visited on him by God. He feels that he has been driven away from the light of God's presence and forced to walk in darkness – almost like a living death (v.6). He feels trapped in his suffering (vv.5,7), and even his cries in prayer seem only to bounce off his prison walls (v.8). He has become the object of mockery by others (v.14), mocked perhaps because he had placed his hope in God to rescue him. That hope has now been all but extinguished (v.18).

Have you been through times when you have had similar feelings to this man? Perhaps times when you have faced sudden difficulties in your life: news of serious illness affecting you or someone you love; loss of a job or shattered hopes concerning a career; the breakup of a relationship that had shaped your life and you expected would be life-long; knowledge that you will never have children… Such things can make us feel abandoned by God – that he has turned his back on us and no longer pays any attention to our prayers. At such times we may feel, rightly or wrongly, that others are pointing to us and talking about us. We easily become resentful towards God.

I said that the writer feels that his hopes in God have been all but crushed. The "all but" is of vital significance. In verses 19-20 he speaks of looking back on all the troubles he has suffered and remembering them with bitterness. His soul is downcast within him. But he then remembers something else, he remembers the faithfulness of God:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. (vv.22-23)

It is as if he suddenly shifts his focus from preoccupation with his own troubles to thinking about the proven goodness of God in his dealings with his people down the years. God has shown his love to his people and he has not changed. His words have inspired one of our favourite hymns:

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

The author of Lamentations knows that God is unchangeably faithful. Therefore he determines to "wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord" (v.26), confident that, "no one is cast off by the Lord for ever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." (vv. 31-32).

We have even greater reason to be confident of God's great love and compassion. God loved us enough to send his beloved Son into the world to be our Saviour. Our Lord Jesus loved us so deeply that he went to the cross to redeem us and make us his own possession. Whatever troubles we may face in life, they cannot extinguish God's love for us, a love that will bring us safe to glory. The Apostle Paul – who knew a thing or two about troubles – wrote, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). We need to lift our eyes and preoccupations above our present troubles to the love and compassion of God shown towards us in the Lord Jesus and to rejoice in him who is our life and hope.

Lord, open my eyes each morning to see that your love and compassion stream to me anew with all the challenges I may have to face in the day. May I prove that your grace is sufficient for me and is made perfect in my weakness. Help me to testify to your faithfulness and love.

Peter Misselbrook