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Question

How could Jeremiah say, “Great is your faithfulness” in Lamentations 3:23?

great is your faithfulness
Answer


In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah is at one of the lowest points in his lifetime. His personal condition parallels that of the nation of Judah. As he witnesses the destruction of his beloved Jerusalem, Jeremiah simultaneously suffers through an excruciatingly painful ordeal. Yet, amid his sorrow and pain, Jeremiah’s hope is renewed as he remembers the faithfulness of the Lord: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

Despite experiencing outward affliction and deep inner turmoil, Jeremiah can say of the Lord, “Great is your faithfulness,” because he places his hope and trust in God. This moment is a turning point in Lamentations as Jeremiah begins to declare God’s promises: “‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:24–25).

“Great is your faithfulness” is Jeremiah’s confession of trust in God. Although cast down for a season, Judah is not utterly cast out. God is disciplining the nation and bringing punishment for her sins but not rejecting her as His covenant people. “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever,” observes the prophet. “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lamentations 3:31–33). God’s punishment is inspired by His compassion, love, and great faithfulness. The Lord’s mercy would keep the nation from total obliteration (see Deuteronomy 7:8–9). God is bringing grief so that He can restore the people to a right relationship with Him. He will eventually deliver a remnant of Judah who will acknowledge their sins, repent, and trust in Him.

Another scriptural example of a determined, perspective-altering confession of faith is Job’s statement, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Circumstances had grown terribly grim for Job. Still, he trusted in the faithfulness of God (see also Job 1:21). Habakkuk makes a similarly stunning declaration: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17–18, NLT). When we experience hardship, discipline, and suffering, we ought to joyfully remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

Indeed, the only alternative for believers in desperate times is to trust in God’s great faithfulness. He is our “rock of protection,” “refuge in times of trouble,” “tower of safety,” “shelter for the oppressed,” “helper,” “shield,” “loving ally,” and “savior” (2 Samuel 22:1–3; Psalm 9:9–10; 144:1–2, NLT). We can rejoice in suffering and hold on to hope through discipline because God uses these moments to grow and mature us in the faith (Romans 5:3; James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 4:12–13; Hebrews 12:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:4–5).

No matter how bad things become, we can thank God that they are not worse, for they very well could be. If God dealt with us as our sins deserved, we would be consumed (Psalm 78:38). Instead, He shows us mercy. When God disciplines and corrects us, we can change our outlook by praising Him for the work He is doing in us (see Philippians 1:6). We can put our “hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption” (Psalm 130:7).

One commentator explains that the “greatness” of God’s faithfulness refers less to magnitude than to multitude: “God’s loyalty far surpasses the multitude of sufferings or sins. His acts of faithfulness abound more than his work of judgment. He will keep his promises to the end, no matter what might occur. . . . This is a God whose covenant love will make all things new; his plentiful faithfulness will accomplish that reality” (Chou, A., Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: Lamentations, Lexham Press, 2014].

The undeniable truth of God’s loyal, abounding, trustworthy, and constant love will transform our perspective and renew our hope, just as it did for Jeremiah and countless other believers. We may endure hardship and discipline for a season, but we can be sure that fresh mercies are available every morning. We can stand on God’s promise that “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). We can fix our eyes on the ultimate source of inspiration—Jesus Christ. He is “the pioneer and perfecter of faith,” who “endured the cross” and “opposition from sinners,” as our example so that we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2–3). Like Jeremiah and so many others before us, let us say of the Lord, “Great is your faithfulness!”

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How could Jeremiah say, “Great is your faithfulness” in Lamentations 3:23?
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This page last updated: November 8, 2022