The book of Lamentations represents one of the darkest periods in ancient biblical history. The year was 586 BC. The Babylonians had taken over Jerusalem and burned the temple. There was no food or water. Disease was spreading rapidly. Thousands of people were dying in the streets. And in Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah recorded everything he saw and heard.
But even as there was this death of a nation, there was also a living God at work, as chapter 3 of the book makes clear. This section of Lamentations is like an island of hope in an ocean of despair. It tells us that though we live in an uncertain world, there are certain things we can rely on:
1. There is mercy in the midst of mayhem. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not" (Lamentations 3:22). This is an incredible statement. Jeremiah was seeing death and destruction all around him, yet he said, "This is not the end. We may be down, but we're not completely wiped out. God has been merciful to us."
I think many of us have discovered that life is a process of getting used to all the things we didn't plan. But whenever there's mayhem, we can count on there being mercies in the midst of it. The word mercies refers to loyal or covenant love. It means that God will act with loving-kindness toward you because of the covenant He has made with you.
2. God's resources will match your requirements. In verse 23, the prophet said that God's mercies and compassions "are new every morning." In other words, God will match whatever requirements you have with His resources. Every morning, there will be a fresh supply of His covenant love and compassion toward you. But it's sort of like manna: you have to gather it every day. So I encourage you to spend your mornings with God in prayer and the Word and receive during that time whatever you'll need for the day.
Jeremiah continued and said, "Great is Your faithfulness." This declaration wasn't based on what he was experiencing but on what he knew about God: He is faithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). It's time we start noticing all the times God is faithful to keep a promise and meet our needs.
3. Delays don't mean denials. "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.... For the Lord will not cast off forever" (vv. 25-26, 31). Did you know that Jeremiah predicted what he saw and wrote about in Lamentations? He spent forty years warning the people that the Babylonians were coming, and not a single person listened to him. And now the Babylonians had come.
But Jeremiah had also made another prediction that Jerusalem would one day be restored. So now these verses make sense. Jeremiah expected God to answer but also gave room for Him to answer in His way and His timing. That's waiting on the Lord.
You and I need to let go a little bit more when we trust the Lord. He has been so good. He has been so faithful. We have certainly seen mayhem, but the Lord has been and is merciful. He has made a covenant of loving-kindness with us, and He's going to deal with us according to the promises He's made. I pray He would help you see His mercies and trust His timing.