‘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)
Lamentations is not an easy read. It’s an outpouring of pain, loss and despair after Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. The poet even periodically blames God for his suffering and lashes out at him for letting it happen (see Lam 2:1-8, 20). It’s raw grief.
But even standing among the ruins, the poet can see a glimpse of hope: God is faithful. He still feels intense pain and mourns what has been lost, but he knows the suffering won’t last forever and, in the meantime, God is with him and his people, sustaining them.
As I write, it’s a year since the UK first went into lockdown in response to the pandemic. If ever there was a time to lament, it’s now. Over 120,000 lives lost. 693,000 people left jobless. Countless more suffering debilitating long-term effects from COVID, months after recovering from the immediate symptoms. Frontline health workers overwhelmed and traumatised. Longed-for holidays, celebrations and family gatherings all put on hold. It’s understandable – healthy even – to grieve for what has been lost during the pandemic and to wish things were different.
But there is still hope. We see glimpses of God’s compassion in friendships which have endured lockdown, in the incredible dedication of NHS staff, teachers and others, and in the vaccines which represent a minor miracle. Right now, life is hard, sad and unforgiving. And none of us should be ashamed to grieve. But God has not forgotten us. His compassions are new every morning. That truth has sustained us and our overseas partners over the last twelve months, and we hope it encourages you too.
(Image by Jordy Meow from Pixabay)