Written by Thomas Kilian, Program Manager and Chaplain
This week we are in Lamentations, and we will read verses proclaiming some wonderful things. But I want to give us the setting and context of the passage’s encouraging words.
The year was 586 BC. It may mean nothing to us, but the year had much meaning to the Israelites. The nation has died. The Babylonians came and took over the city and burned it. As Jeremiah was writing about what he saw in Lamentations, thousands of people were dying in the streets of Jerusalem. People ran into the city for protection, where there was no food, sickness spread quickly, and the temple was burnt. It was so terrible that the prophet wrote in this book that some parents became cannibals.
Jeremiah, like a war correspondent, is recording what he sees and hears in the book of Lamentations. This book records Jeremiah's laments as if at a funeral.
If you are familiar with the book, you know that from chapter three onward, things go from bad to worse. But suddenly, we come to verses that are an island of hope in a lake of despair. Verses are like a bright light in a dark room. We come to these verses, beginning with verse 21 of Chapter 3. The prophet writes:
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.22 It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke sin his youth.28 He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.29 He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.30 He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.31 For the Lord will not cast off for ever:
God's provisions will match whatever is required for survival. Look at verse 23. "they are new every morning," says the prophet. What's new? It is God's mercies, His compassions; they are new every morning. And then he pauses... "Great is your faithfulness!"
We should understand how significant this is. It is like somebody standing in a massacre with a lifted head and proclaiming, "Great is God's faithfulness!"
Jeremiah is saying that whatever need the day throws at you, God will match it with provision. Whatever requirement you have, whatever need, God will match it with resources. Every morning, whatever you need to get through that day, that week, that month, there will be a fresh supply of God's convent love and loving compassion towards you.
But there is a condition to receiving. Do you remember manna in the Old Testament? Do you remember there was a condition or command from God for sending them manna? They had to do something. They had to gather it every single morning. It is as though God said, "You must get out there and get it every day. It will go bad if you try to collect a basket full to save for a few days because I will spoil it with worms. So every day, you have to go out and demonstrate that you are dependent."
God's mercies are like manna. They are new every morning. You got to gather them every morning for that DAY, but not for tomorrow too. Show God that you are dependent on Him, no matter the fleshly desire to take control of your future.
You may study the life struggle of the Patriarch Jacob (Schemer or “Grabber of the Heel”), named by God himself. Jacob was always scheming to be prosperous and was deceptive. His stubbornness was displayed when wrestling with God for a blessing. A fight that harmed his hip. (Read Genesis 21 - 33)
Here is the challenge for us: Give your mornings to God. Spend some time with Him, and adjust your sight for the day according to His Word. Try to gather the "warm bread" or the manna daily and receive what you will need for that day during that time. Whenever you begin to have fear of lack and feel the urge to control your circumstances, plus and pray “Great is your faithfulness, O Lord!” Ask for the grace of humility.
Jeremiah says, "Great is your faithfulness!" I have always marveled at this text. Because to say this is a declaration based not on what he sees, hears, feels, and smells but on what he knows to be Truth. What he sees is fire. What he is smelling is the corrupted and rotted flesh. What he is hearing is the cities of women and children being massacred. And yet, the prophet makes a statement not on what he sees but on what he knows, his faith, and the knowledge of God that he has.
Paul went so far as to tell Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:13: "if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”