Discipline and grace…

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Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The writer was among the remnant of Israel living in the city of Jerusalem, which was in ruins after invasion from the Babylonians. Most of the rest of the Israelites were either dead or living as slaves in Babylon. Hence the book of Lamentations is filled with sorrow, grief, and loss. Yet, despite the brutal reality the writer had experienced, he wrote of God’s “steadfast love”, “mercies”, and “faithfulness”.

“The Lord is my portion… therefore I will hope in him.”

I’m blown away by the author’s optimism and hope. Yes God had punished his people, but had not forsaken them. He brought death and destruction, but it did not last forever. The deep connection between God and Israel had not been severed, only tested. The writer had hope.

I can recall receiving corporal punishment as a child, which was a common thing decades ago. I remember dreading a spanking when I had done wrong and feeling the sting on my backside. But I was more worried that my parents would somehow reject me or stop loving me. I expect this was evident on my face because very often, immediately following a spanking, I would be embraced and told I was loved. In that moment of vulnerability I needed that.

I see a similar thing in the book of Lamentations. God had brought harsh discipline on the people, but had not forsaken them altogether. They were still God’s people and he was still their God. Lord give us grace to accept your discipline as well as your mercies, which are new every morning. Amen.

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