Are there any foundations that cannot be shaken? The Book of Lamentations is a long sorrowful poem—written in the immediate aftermath of the sacking and destruction of the nation of Judah by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
The nation was destroyed. The temple was torn down. Thousands were killed. Most of the survivors were taken into exile. The people of God had never seen any year like it. A year of utter destruction and devastation. The poem is thus a long lament in the face of evil and suffering.
At the heart of the book of Lamentations is the kernel of hope. The ray of light shines in the midst of utter darkness and in the cacophony of despair and distress, a whisper of faith is heard.But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.Lamentations 3:21-26
In the midst of all the destruction, distress, and despair around us, God is instructing us on the foundations that cannot be shaken.
GOD is LOVING
The first unshakable foundation is: GOD is LOVING. Verse 22 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases.” The compound term “steadfast love” is the Hebrew word “hesed.” This is one of the most important terms and concepts in the Bible. It is found 248 times in the Old Testament.
Behind the term, “hesed” is the idea of covenant. It is the truth that God has entered into a binding covenant with His people. He has committed His love to His people.
In the Old Testament, it was the people of Israel. But now, God has entered into covenant with His people, comprising both Jews and Gentiles, who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. That includes us—you and me! We are now the object of His covenant love. God loves us with a steadfast love regardless of the status of our life or our situation.
This is what the author Philip Yancey says about God’s eternal love: “[T]here is nothing we can do to make God love us more. . . . And . . . there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. . . . God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.”
God’s steadfast love may seem like a cliché, but it is important to let it soak in. Nothing can separate us from the eternal love of God.
GOD is MERCIFUL
The second unshakable foundation is: GOD is MERCIFUL. The Poet further extends and echoes the idea of God’s steadfast love along with the idea of God’s everlasting mercy. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” is followed by “his mercies never come to an end” (v. 22).
But this is not simply a poetic or artistic embellishment. It is deeply theological and a logical truth: God’s steadfast love toward His people never ceases precisely because His mercies never come to an end. God’s love and God’s mercy are the two sides of the same coin.
We often subconsciously think that we need God’s mercy only for the sins and trespasses committed before coming to Christ and at the point of accepting Christ. If we are truly honest about ourselves, we need God’s mercy continually, even after we become His people.
The good news is, God’s mercies never come to an end. “They are new every morning” (v. 23). God shows His mercy toward us continually as He is merciful.
GOD is FAITHFUL
This is the third unshakable foundation: GOD is FAITHFUL. The Poet exclaims in verse 23, “Great is your faithfulness!”.
The well-known hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” actually comes from this verse. This hymn was neither written in response to a dramatic spiritual experience nor in the context of great victory and triumph. It was not the product of a single experience of God’s faithfulness, but the experience of a lifetime of God’s faithfulness in the midst of life’s many vicissitudes and troubles.
Not long before his death, Thomas Chisholm, the hymn writer, wrote in a letter: “My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here, the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”
We often draw a straight line trying to connect the conditions and circumstances of our lives and the faithfulness of God. But, No! We need to learn to delink our existential realities and circumstantial instabilities from God’s eternal reality and essential stability.
We need to realize that God’s faithfulness toward us is irrespective of our faithfulness toward Him. As Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful.”
GOD is GOOD
The fourth unshakable foundation is: GOD is GOOD. Verse 25 simply says, “The Lord is good.” The Poet affirmatively declares the goodness of God in the midst of adversities.
But the question remains: If God is good, then why does it sometimes not seem to be so? We don’t recognize what true goodness is and so do not realize it, even when we see it. Our badness obscures God’s goodness.
Our ungratefulness and our hard-heartedness blinds us and blocks His goodness. We are simply too hard-hearted—and tight-fisted—to acknowledge His goodness and good gifts.
We short-sightedly often see only the mad, the bad, and the sad around us. But we overlook the transcendent goodness of God, and how He “works everything together for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
One of the early Church Fathers martyred for his faith in Christ was Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna. After being hounded and arrested for his faith, he was finally given an ultimatum by the Governor: deny Christ or be burned at the stake.
And this is what the 86-year-old saint said in response: “Fourscore and six years have I served Him, and He has never done me injury; how then can I now blaspheme my King and Saviour?” “He has never done me injury.”
When we think back on our personal journey with God, we can also truly say, “He has never done me injury.” God has been good to us—just as He has been faithful, merciful, and loving toward us. He has been, is, and will always be. And that is why we say with the Poet: “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope” (v. 21)