Thursday, November 1, 2012

God's Faithfulness

Recently the Lord has been speaking to me and those around me about his faithfulness.  Hebrews 12:1 speaks of "the sin that so easily besets us."  How easy it is when we are going through difficult times to question God and his faithfulness.  Yet, one thing holds true.  God IS faithful.  He is unchanging.  He does not extend his faithfulness to us when we can see it only, but also when it is dark and we can not see the end from the beginning.  He remains faithful.

We see a clear picture of this in Lamentations 3.  In verses 1-18 Jeremiah says the following:  "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.  Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.  My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.  He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.  He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.  He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.  Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.  He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.  He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.  He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.  He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.  I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.  He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.  He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.  And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.  And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord." 

There is no room for doubt here.  It is vividly clear that Jeremiah is expressing his agony; his absolute misery and torment.  He is anguishing about his situation.  There is also no doubt that he is talking about God himself.  Jeremiah says, "HE" hath led me and brought me into darkness", "HE" is turned against me, "HE" hath broken my bones. 

In this we see Jeremiah's condition.  Now we see in verse 19 and 20 Jeremiah's calling out to God.  ""Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.  My soul hath them still in remembrance and is humbled in me."  Jeremiah is crying out to God, telling him how he feels. 

Then in verse 21 we see something remarkable.  Jeremiah says, "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.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him."

Simply put, in the throes of an agonizing situation, in the midst of his distress and despair, Jeremiah makes a conscious decision.  He says, "I choose to recall something that I know or have been told, and therefore I have hope."  And this is what he recalls: "the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning.  GREAT is His faithfulness."

It says that the Lord "compassed Jeremiah with gall and travail," yet he chose not to drink that gall.  (bitterness)  Instead he chose to look past his emotions and focus on God's faithfulness.  That is where he found strength and hope!

We see a picture of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane in a similar condition as Jeremiah.  So agonizing and distressing that he felt he couldn't take anymore.  No one knew better than Jesus of his Father's faithfulness.   Yet he said to his Father, "if there be any other way now would be a really good time to tell me..."   While being tortured, nailed to a wooden cross, when offered the wine mixed with vinegar (the gall/bitterness) Jesus refused to drink of it.  Instead of choosing the gall; being bitter against those torturing him and against his Father for allowing it to happen, instead of questioning his Father and saying "what are you doing?" he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  Jesus chose to call to mind something he knew and hold to it....that the steadfast love of his Father never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; that His Father is faithful. 

Like Jeremiah and Jesus, this is where we find our hope to go on. 

GREAT is His faithfulness.


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