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Bible study

Bible Study – This I call to mind… (Lamentations 3:21-24)

Today’s Reading: Lamentations 3-5

Today’s Reflection: Lamentations 3:21-24

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

What is this text saying?

This text—one of the most popular, profound and powerful in the bible—is an expression of utmost faith in the unchanging character of God, full of love, compassion, and mercy.  He gives us reason to hope even when circumstances appear hopeless.

Why is it important?

A ‘lament’ is an expression of grief over a serious loss.  The book Lamentations, believed to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah, expresses grief over the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.  This book seeks to explain how this calamity befell Jerusalem (the Hebrew name for this book is “ekah”, which is in English is ‘How…!’) and it serves as a warning for future generations of God’s people.  The greatest tragedy of Lamentations is the fact that Jerusalem’s destruction was brought about by the disobedience of the people of Judah, and their complete disregard for the covenant they had with God.  Though carried out by the armies of Babylon, this catastrophe was clearly God’s judgment against His wayward and stubborn nation.

And yet, in the midst of this horror, the writer inserts these verses, brimming with unwavering trust, faith and hope in the same God who has just executed judgment—just though it was—against his own people.  The writer understood that God is not only just, but also merciful—that He is a restorer and a redeemer.

How can I apply this?

There will be times when you find yourself in dire circumstances, when calamity, trials and tragedies will befall you.  And some times you will almost certainly be the cause of the difficulties in your life.  Despite this there is reason for hope, because above all things God desires to restore and redeem you—even from yourself when necessary.  Restoration is returning or replacing that which was lost; Redemption is paying the price for your mistakes and misdeeds.  Each verse in this passage holds a key to how God works restoration and redemption out in your life.

Verse 21: But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The first thing you have to do when trouble comes is remember.  Remember who God is.  Remember His promises.  Remember that He has never failed you.  Remember that even though He may not have done everything you wanted the way you wanted, He has always given you exactly what you needed exactly when you needed it.  When you remember what God has done for you in the past you will find hope for your future.  Don’t tell God how big your problem is; tell your problem how big your God is.

Verse 22: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;

The word ‘never’ is an absolute.  Not ever.  There will never be a time when God does not love.  There will never be a time when He is not willing to be merciful.  Not ever.  Not even when He is passing judgment.  If your predicament is one caused by your own willful disobedience this is very good news indeed.  It means even in your fallen state, in the midst of your suffering, you can still go boldly before God’s throne in prayer and find grace and mercy when you are in need (Hebrews 4:16).

One caviat: though God’s mercy never ends, the time for the exercise of His mercy in this world will.  Turn to God, with all your heart, and don’t delay.  Do it now.

Isaiah 55:6-7 – “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”.

Verse 23: they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 

No matter how bad today has been (and no matter how bad you have been today) because of God’s love and mercy, tomorrow can be as though the worst of today never happened.  God is faithful and just to forgive (1 John 1:9), to redeem (Isaiah 49:7), to restore (Lamentations 5:21), and to let the sins of the past remain forgotten in the past (Psalm 103:12).

Verse 24: “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Because we live in an imperfect and sinful world, there will be times when what you have will not measure up to what you need.  There will be times of loss, deprivation, desolation, loneliness, hunger, thirst, suffering, brokenness and disappointment.  Times when friends, and family, and even church members, let you down.  Times when the cheque you were counting on bounces.  Times when a loved one is taken from you way too soon.  At these times know that you do have the one thing that can never be taken from you.  When you can be sure of nothing else, know for certain that the Lord is your portion.  Because of this you always have reason for hope.

Psalm 30:5 – For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

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