Dire Circumstances and God’s Faithfulness

“Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God, my Father…” So the hymn goes, drawing our attention to the constancy of our God. To be quite transparent, there are days (and more than one in the average week!) where the faithfulness of God feels as distant as the finish feels in the last six miles of a marathon. To sing this song on such days feels disingenuous and even hypocritical.

In my Bible reading I was working through Lamentations. The verse on which this song is based occurs in chapter 3. What surprised me this time through was the utter bleakness that leads up to verses 21-23. Jeremiah is oppressed on every side. Jerusalem is in shambles at the hand of Babylonians and he has come to realize these dire circumstances were just (1:18) and purposed by God (2:8, 17). The imagery, however, is even more disturbing in chapter 3, where the Lord is depicted as personally causing the affliction to Jeremiah (3:10-13). To say that Jeremiah is having a bad day would be a gross understatement.

It is in this desperate and humbled position that Jeremiah calls to mind the faithfulness of God. Finding a connection between Jeremiah’s circumstances and God’s faithfulness is unimaginable, even absurd. But making this connection in this passage and in our lives is essential. In the darkness of challenging circumstances, assurance of God’s enduring faithfulness shines all the more brightly.

F.B. Huey comments on this passage: “The unbroken mood of despair was displaced by a beautiful affirmation of hope in spite of suffering…In the midst of chaos and depression, the poet revealed a deep faith in the trustworthiness of God.” (Jeremiah and Lamentations, NAC, 473). The steadfastness of God’s love for us stands in stark relief to the troublesome canvas of our lives. May God continue to remind us, and may we remind ourselves, of God’s enduring faithfulness.

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