This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23
There was a time when I was struggling with sadness. I had been dealing with a lot of really broken sheep in my church. Sheep that are stunted in their development. Sheep that are petty and pouty. In addition to a few external factors, I felt like the weight of more than my world was on my shoulders if not in my heart. I mentioned this to a couple of men I trust and asked them to pray for me. One mentioned I sit with Lamentations chapter three.
The author, Jeremiah, is called the weeping prophet. When you read his journal, you understand why. In the midst of sadness and despair, Jeremiah received hope. How did he do it?
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed…..”
Said another way, God’s mercies never cease. Let that seep into your busy mind.
Listen: “The Lord is my shepherd…..surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…..”
Did you know that the Lord has sheepdogs named “Goodness” and “Mercy”? Every time that I run astray, “Mercy” and “Goodness” is trotting right beside me. Every time I feel distant from God they are following close behind.
That’s what Jeremiah is saying. The Lord’s mercies never cease. They are relentless. Isn’t that good news?
“…..His compassions fail not.”
“Compassions” means sympathetic love, concern for the helpless. It always includes “involvement” when it is referring to God. His compassions never fail. His heart keeps going out to the prodigal.
Remember the story in Luke 15? The boy leaves home; but the father doesn’t run after him. He doesn’t try to bribe him with half the inheritance if he’ll stay. He lets him go. Just like God does with us. And in that foreign land, the boy spends it all. He runs out of food, folks, and fun! He decides to go home. And there he finds the father never moved. In fact, when the father saw him a long way down the road, he ran to his son. His compassion never fails. When you and I come home He says, “I’ve missed you.”
“…..great is Thy faithfulness.”
How big is “great”? His faithfulness never diminishes. He won’t forget my name, circumstances, or prayers. I will never go to God and catch Him off guard. He doesn’t have to ask the Angel Gabriel to pull my file. He is faithful to know exactly where I am and what I am going through.
He won’t forget me.
When I was a boy growing up in the mountains, I had a Boxer named Heidi. She was my best friend. She followed me on every adventure. I took her hunting. She was not much of a hunting dog. The only animal she could catch was a porcupine. I don’t know if you can imagine what a Boxer and a porcupine fight might be like, but let me just say dog always loses. While laying around on the living room floor in front of the fireplace watching grainy and gray episodes of Gunsmoke with my family, I would use her as a pillow.
One summer I was gone for an extended period of time and upon my return, as we got closer to the house, my heart began to beat a little faster. I missed my mom and dad and my brother and sisters, but the person in my family that I wanted to see first was my dog, Heidi. I asked my mom if she thought that Heidi missed me as much as I missed her.
We pulled up in front of our house and I looked for her and looked for her. I couldn’t find her anywhere. She always would meet any vehicle driving into the drive way, but on this day she was not in the yard or on the porch.
So, I went out back of our house and looked down the canyon behind our house. I whistled. Then I heard her let our her “warning bark.” The bark she reserved for strangers. So I yelled her name. Silence. So I called her name again. Suddenly she let out a bark of recognition and started running to the house. She looked like a red ball shot out of a gun. On and on she came, low to the ground until as she got close enough, she jumped into my arms and licked me until my face was red and raw.
My dog remembered me.
If a dog will remember a boy after few weeks of unexplained absence, you can trust the God of the universe to remember you and be faithful to you.
Your sadness might not abate, but you won’t be alone.
And that is enough.