Lamentations 22-23 “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.”
Let’s talk for a few minutes about “the Lord’s great love.” Many, if not most, Christians are familiar with a distinctive kind of love described in the New Testament. The Greek word “agápe” often refers to God’s unconditional love: love not based on some attractiveness, some worthiness, in the person God loves. The Lord loves us because he chooses to love us, and our behavior cannot make him stop.
The Old Testament has its own word to describe unique characteristics of the Lord’s love for us. It is the word behind “great love” here, “chesed.” It brings together two things: God’s faithfulness and God’s mercy.
The Lord loves his people faithfully. Human love is like a roller coaster ride. It gets pushed all around by all the competing emotions we have going on inside us. How many books and movies don’t make use of that to keep the story interesting? It may make for good entertainment, but it doesn’t make for very happy experiences. Hearts get broken. People get mistreated, even abused. Human love is chaotic and unreliable.
The Lord’s love is faithful. He doesn’t have good days and bad days. He is never confused about how he feels about us. He is the unchanging God. You remember that when the Lord revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush on Mt. Sinai, he referred to himself as the “I am.” He is never, “I was.” He is never the “I will be.” That would mean change. He is always, has always, and will always be the same as he is right now. And that applies to his love for us.
Our circumstances may change. They change every day. Our behavior may change. One day we are full of passion and zeal for God. We make all kinds of resolutions for improvement. We are going to be the parent, spouse, sibling, employee, Christian servant, godly role model we always said we would.
But we are like the weather. Give it a few minutes. It will change. We wake up on the wrong side of bed one day. We have a few things go the wrong way. People cross us and stick a pin in our balloon full of good intentions, and out come the claws. The stress and mistreatment put us on the warpath. Get out of the way before I run you over, and curse God for letting my day, or letting my life, be ruined!
Remember, Jeremiah says. Remember that you, that we, are not consumed. We have just poked our Lord in the eye. We have practically begged him, dared him, to come and dish out some pain and hurt. We have given him reason to throw in the towel and give up on us altogether. That’s not what happens. Why? “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.” “His compassions never fail.” “Great is your faithfulness.”
I said that chesed brings together two things. One of them is this absolute faithfulness of God’s love. The other is his compassion. When we pray at the dinner table, “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever,” that word “mercy” is chesed.
This says that God is moved to do something about our misery. Feeding us when we are hungry is just one small example. Practically the whole history of the nation of Israel before Jesus was God looking down from heaven at the misery of his people and being moved to action. He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He brought them food and water in the desert. He rescued them from invading nations time after time. He kept the people who went into exile in Jeremiah’s day together as a nation, and seventy years later he brought them home. They were not consumed. They were spared as a result of the Lord’s compassion.
This compassion isn’t limited to nationwide events of historical significance. Your personal misery moves him, too. He may allow it. He may even initiate it. That doesn’t mean he likes it. As soon as it has served its purpose, he wants to remove it. He is not a sadistic God. He is compassionate and merciful. Together with his faithfulness, he gives us what we need to survive each day.
2 thoughts on “Because of the Lord’s Great Love…”
Pastor — the last sentence of “Because of the Lord’s Great Love…” may need a revision…I don’t understand it as written
Thanks, Frank. “These” should have been “gives.” Not sure what happened. I have made the edit.