Tuesday 19 December 2017

Bible Book:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end” (v. 22)

Lamentations 3:22-33 Tuesday 19 December 2017

Psalm: Psalm 142


Verses 22-24 are a personal declaration of faith: God’s steadfast love and mercy are ceaseless,  and renewed every morning. This God is the whole content of the writer’s life and being (“my portion” – v. 24) and the ground of hope for the future.

Verses 25-26: God’s goodness is always to be trusted. In difficult circumstances a spirituality of patient waiting and seeking God marks the sure path to freedom and life (“salvation” – v. 26).

Verses 27-33 explore the mystery of personal suffering and affliction.

The whole section, like so much in the Bible, expresses the underlying assumption – which is spelt out just a few verses later (Lamentations 3.37-38) that nothing happens to us except with the permission and will of God. (This is a difficult theme for individuals today to grasp or accept, within modern liberal societies.)

Verses 27-30 portray a young person who has misbehaved being ‘sent to his room’, isolated from the family for a while, where they can reflect in silence on what they have done. They must learn to accept the justice of the penalty imposed - humbly lying face down on the ground (verse 29) to express that; and they should not react angrily or violently (verse 30). This is a metaphor of how mature human beings need to learn from an early age to resign themselves to their personal experience of affliction and suffering.

So, is suffering God’s will? Yes, but it must be placed within the writer’s faith. The truth is that God’s heart is pure, overflowing love alone; God never capriciously hurts anyone (verses 32-33). But God must make a just response to human misconduct. Suffering is God’s punishment. It is fair and time-limited (verse 31), never vindictive. God is compassionate – always, in all circumstances.

To Ponder

  • A core theme in Jewish and Christian spirituality perceives overnight sleep as a mini-death and waking up each morning as a renewal of God’s gift of love and life. How do you find space and time each morning to celebrate God’s gospel grace?
  • In the light of Jesus’ revelation of the depth and breadth of God’s love, do you think of God punishing you when you make mistakes or do wrong? If not, how does God enable you to learn and grow into a more authentic life of goodness?
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