“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV)
The book of Lamentations deals with suffering. Not just that, it deals with the suffering of the people of God. Amid an unthinkable tragedy, the prophet Jeremiah pours out his heart into words that describe his agony. But even with his heartbroken by the events he witnessed, he still had a message of hope for the people and for us.
#1 Suffering as a Consequence of Sin
Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations to express his grief about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of God by the Babylonians. The survivors were taken into exile, far away from the Promised Land. Jeremiah and many other prophets before him had warned the people about the consequences of disobeying God, especially regarding idol worship. But the people of Israel didn’t pay attention to their words. They continued doing what was an abomination for the Lord and sacrificing to the idols.
But they should know better. Centuries before that, when they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God had told them, through Moses, what would happen if they disobeyed Him and didn’t repent. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 contains the process of punishment that would be brought upon the nation for their disobedience.
However, God didn’t want to destroy His people. God had said through Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV). He brought fair punishment to their sin so they could repent. Upon repentance, they would be restored and blessed by God. This is what He had promised through Moses, as it was written in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. Note that God had revealed those events several centuries in advance.
#2 God’s Endless Mercy for His People
Jeremiah begins chapter 3 of Lamentations by saying, “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath” (Lamentations 3:1 KJV). Then he continued describing his heart-breaking situation.
Then, in verse 21, he changes the tone of his speech. Despite his suffering, he still has hope (Jeremiah 3:21). And this is the reason for his hope: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV).
Those verses were not written to make us feel comfortable. They were meant to remind us that God is good even amid tragedy. Jeremiah knew that the people deserved nothing good from God. They failed to obey His commandments, even after God sent prophet after prophet to remind them of His covenant with them. Yet, Jeremiah knew that the only reason that they were not decimated was because of the Lord’s endless mercies and compassion.
Years after Jeremiah, while still in exile, Nehemiah wrote that “for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God” (Nehemiah 9:31 KJV). He, too, knew that God had every reason to “consume” the whole nation for their disobedience, but He didn’t. On the contrary. He showed them endless grace and mercy.
#3 Our Hope in God’s Faithfulness
Not every suffering is a direct consequence of sin. But, in this case, the people of Israel were sent to exile because of their sin as a nation. And this was not a one-time thing. They had sinned over and over again throughout their history.
So, one could wonder if they could get to the point of angering God so much that He would abandon them. Jeremiah said they couldn’t because the Lord’s mercies are renewed every morning. It means that they are endless. This was his hope. This is our hope too.
God may bring pain and suffering to His children. He can use those to teach us and shape us, so we can grow. He can also use them to confront us with our sins. When that happens, we need to remind ourselves of His mercy. Jeremiah said, “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lamentations 3:32 KJV). Then we need to repent, confess our sins, and seek His forgiveness. The apostle John wrote that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).
The prophet Micah wrote that “he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19 KJV). How amazing are the Lord’s love and mercy! And we can always trust Him because He will never change (Malachi 3:6).
God’s mercies don’t depend on us. They are renewed every day. They are endless, no matter what we do. The Bible tells us that the Lord “is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 136:1 KJV). This is our hope! God is willing to bring punishment to His children because of our sin, but He will do so to get us to repent and be restored. So, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 ESV).
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.