“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me He turns his hand again and again the whole day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; He has broken my bones; He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; He has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, He shuts out my prayer; He has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; He has made my paths crooked. He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; He turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; He has made me desolate; He bent His bow and set me as a target for his arrow. He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver; I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. He has filled me with bitterness; He has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 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.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” – Lamentations 3:1-24.
HOW MANY OF us can personally relate to the above words? For some of you, it describes exactly where you’re at – mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. How many of you have felt that even your endurance has perished, to include your hope in the Lord? How many of you are under the strong sense that there is going to be no deliverance? “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted…” (Isaiah 54:11), there is always hope as long as God is alive – and will He ever cease to exist?
The author of Lamentations called to mind in his deepest distress: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end… Great is Your faithfulness” – this is while the writer felt the blow (chastisement) of God’s hand upon him.
We know the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, but will it cease from you? There are those who love strongly, but such human love can dissipate and transfer from one person to another; it is more often than not conditional. Does the Lord grow weary of you; does His love for you weaken and wax cold? Has your unfaithfulness made Him turn away from you? Does God lie; does He break His covenant with you? ‘“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from You and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, Who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10)
The mountains speak of strength, stability, vitality, routine and security; the hills speak of everyday life, the comforts of shelter from harrowing winds. All that we know to be comforting, securing and inspiring to all of a sudden (or gradually) be removed is overwhelming. Even when such things have been taken away and sensing the favour of the Lord has been replaced with the ‘displeasure’ of God, we can be assured that God’s love shall not depart from us. You are His constant care and He is working the very things you presently dread and loathe for your very best.
“The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and will break
In blessing on your head.”
God remains the Rock of Ages, through all seasons and every changing wind and we are reminded and called to come unto Him and rest in His love, love that will not let us go, love that pursues us, love that will correct us and love that restores us. Go to Him. These crushing perplexities and these afflictions that sorely wound the heart are there to drive you to Him. They are His mercies to keep you close by His side; they are the workings of His covenant to keep you eternally: “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). This is not confined to the apostles, for we all by grace enter and partake of God’s everlasting kindnesses and mercies; there is no distinction – there is no Jew or Gentile for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); we all drink from the same fountain of mercy. It is all of the will of God and not the will of man.
Our love for God may wane and waver, but it is ever the work of the Holy Spirit to reignite our cleaving unto the Lord, until we learn to say, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25). This is indeed the steadfast love of the Lord restoring us; this indeed is the greatness of His faithfulness and nothing in our nature can change that, our nature will not only bow the knee; it will embrace the Sovereign Lord. He Who has begun a wonderful work of salvation (and through overfamiliarity we forget what wonderful really means) in your life will most surely bring it to absolute completion and perfection.
His mercies never come to an end and how we view that word ‘never’ in its context will determine our outlook; it will regulate our perspective of the love of God; it will measure our sense of security in God. We cannot be any more secure in God than we are now, but we can most certainly experience the reality of it to greater degrees. May David’s persuasiveness become ours too: “Surely goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me all of the days of my life.”