The Faithfulness of God: The Hope of a Broken People
“They are renewed every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
Jeremiah was deeply troubled and broken. Not only was he persecuted by the leaders of his day, but he was brokenhearted his people and the nation he loved was thrown into bondage because of God’s judgment upon them.
For years Judah had continued their downward spiral into idolatry and rebellion against God. Time and time again, God had sent his prophets to warn that they were descended into spiritual and moral chaos that would end in their destruction. While there had been occasion glimpses of revival, they were short-lived as the people returned to the worship and religious practices of Baal, a religion that incorporated temple prostitution and even child sacrifice. Much like today, the nation has rejected the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life in their rebellious pursuit of foreign gods. Even when the northern tribes of Israel were cast into bondage because of their sins, the southern nation of Judah refused to heed the warning. Consequently, God assigned the prophet Jeremiah the responsibility of proclaiming God’s imminent and certain judgment. The book of Lamentations was written in response to the collapse and captivity of Judah in 586 B.C. when Babylon ravished the country and deported the people back to Babylon to become their slaves. So horrific was the nightmare of the siege that starvation and cannibalism became daily reality of those entrapped in the city of Jerusalem. Heart broken by what was happening to the country and people he loved, Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned his lament and grief of the downfall of Judah. In the heart of his lament he felt the full weight of his affliction which he describes as “homelessness, bitter and poisonous” (vs 19). In verse 20 he describes his soul cast down which has the idea of “decomposing within him.”
But woven into the message of sorrow was also a prophetic message of hope. As Jeremiah pleaded for mercy and confessed the sins of his people, Jeremiah contemplated the character of God. At the deepest and darkest time in Jeremiah’s life, he recalled his God and hope sprung to live again. In the midst of his sorrow, he remembers that God’s lovingkindness never ceases, and his compassion never fails, and that God remains ever faithful to his promises. Jeremiah again realized that the disciplining hand of God upon the nation does not mean that God has abandoned his covenant with Abraham. Furthermore, even as God brought judgment upon the nation, he has not forgotten those who still faithfully seek him and place their trust in him (vs 25-26). God is always faithful to the righteous remnant even as he brought judgement upon the nation as a whole. In verse 20, Jeremiah described his soul as decaying within him, but now in verse 24 we find his soul affirming “the Lord is my portion;” that God himself is Jeremiah’s greatest possession which sprung up has hope within him.
In times with it seems that everything around us is rapidly deteriorating around us, we have the hope and confidence that God will remain faithful to those trusting in him. He still knows his people and faithfully watches over us. It is no wonder that Thomas Chisholm, whose continual poor health forced him out of ministry and caused him to struggle financially, found comfort in these words and would write one of the great hymns of the faith: “Great is thy faithful, O God my father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not, As thou has been, thou forever wilt be. Great is thy faithfulness!” In our times of trouble, we have the same comfort: God’s faithfulness is more than sufficient for any situation.