Best of Daily Reflections: Great Is Thy Faithfulness
The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison. I can’t help but remember and am depressed. I call all this to mind—therefore, I will wait. Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. (CEB)
Lamentations 3:22-23 has inspired many songs and hymns. For example, one of the earliest and most popular of praise songs was based on this text: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end...." Similarly, the classic hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” puts into poetry the assurances of Lamentations 3:22-23: “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
In fact, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is not only my favorite hymn, but also one that I’ve sung in some of the happiest and hardest occasions of my life. I sang this hymn with rejoicing in my wedding and my ordination service. I sang this hymn with mixed feelings of sorrow and joy in the memorial services for my father and my wife’s mother.
Both my father and my mother-in-law died after suffering terribly with liver cancer. My family and I watched in horror as they wasted away. It was excruciating, one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. There were many times when I questioned God’s faithfulness. His mercies didn’t seem new every morning, but far, far away. Yet, even in the midst of our pain, there were times when God let us know that he was still with us, still loving us.
Ironically, the experience of singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in the midst of grief is close to that of the writer of Lamentations. He had suffered horribly. At one point, he had lost all hope in God (3:18). Yet, as he remembered the Lord, he found the ability to celebrate God’s love and compassion in some of the most prized words in all of Scripture.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever experienced anything like the writer of Lamentations 3? What enables us to keep on trusting in God’s faithful love when we are stung by suffering in our family and community or hopelessness in our work and finances?
PRAYER: O Lord, how I thank you for the times you have sustained me when I’ve been dragged down by despair. Thank you for continuing to love me when I turned my back on you in anger. Thank you for your patience, your mercy, your kindness.
I pray for all who are struggling to trust you today. Let them know of your love and grace. Reassure them by your presence. Comfort them in their agony and doubt. Even in their pain, help them to sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness!” Amen.
“The Steadfast Love” by Edith McNeill, © Celebration, 1974.
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm, © 1923. Renewed 1951, Hope Publishing Co.