Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (ESV).
Ordinarily, I read from a different version, but I appreciate the ESV’s structure because it takes its rendering verbatim from a very familiar hymn: The Steadfast Love of the Lord. This verse has been put to music, which facilitates memorization for any Christian. It is one that should be recalled regularly, and it is peculiar that one would find such a beautiful and uplifting lyric, in an otherwise dolorous book. But that is the mask of Lamentations, which perhaps causes some Christians to overlook it. A title like “Lamentations” seems depressing. The original Hebrew title is not much more helpful. The closest English word is probably “Alas!” Not to mention, the poetic structure was written in the form of a funeral dirge—how edifying and cheerful! And yet, it is.
The Preacher has said that it is better go to a house of mourning rather than a house of mirth (Ecc. 7:2) because doing so sobers the mind. Confrontation with loss and death compels human beings to prioritize what is truly important. People do not seek God in times of comfort, but in times of anguish, and they seek His help and guidance if they are not simultaneously blaming Him for something He did not do.
In the chiasmic movement of the first four chapters of Lamentations, these two verses sit almost in the exact middle of those chapters. Essentially, the author is telling the reader, “Look here at the very heart of things!” The author displays the horrible wrongs and consequences endured under recent devastation and catastrophe. Yet, at the very center of all the abominations and abortions that malevolence and natural disasters heap upon us, that weeping prophet cannot but confess that Jehovah never ceases in His love; His mercies are endless, and they are new every morning. Every day of life is a gift from God! Every breath is a full extension of His mercy! If Christians stopped to thank God for every little breath that we take for granted (and many other little things in life, too), we would all truly fulfill Paul’s commandment to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
It is with these verses of Lamentations that further bolsters the forcefulness of Romans 8:38-39. If the author could write such hopeful words immediately following the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, then we can all stand fast and hope in the steadfast love of the Lord because we know it never ceases and we know his mercies will never end. So sing this song of hope and praise in times of great distress and tribulation—that’s why the author wrote it. It is not without reason that Lamentations waxes hopeful after these two verses. Lamentations teaches Christians appropriate times to weep and express their vexations to God—Who is more than willing to hear them! Yet we cannot simply weep and vent to God. Rather we must strongly anchor our hearts and minds to the centrality of these two verses, for it is the fulcrum not only of Lamentations, but also our edification and joy.