The Lord Will Not Cast Off Forever (Lamentations 3:31-33)
For the LORD will not cast off forever, 32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33 for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. —Lamentations 3:31-33
Perhaps more than any other time in our generation, the world as a whole has been learning what it means to wait. As we hunker down in our homes in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, we find ourselves waiting for many things: for churches to gather, for businesses to resume, for stimulus checks to arrive, for our favorite restaurants to open, for a vaccine to be developed. Some have waited for test results. Others have waited for reports on the health of a loved one. In some cases, the waiting has resulted in relief and joy. In some cases, the waiting has resulted in pain and sorrow.
The hard news of Lamentations is that the people of God must wait for the salvation of the Lord in the midst of suffering. We continue to experience affliction and grief in this life, sometimes in excruciating ways. This was true of certain faithful Israelites who suffered siege and exile. It was also true of rebellious Israelites who needed to respond to such afflictions with repentance and faith. The same is true of the church and the world today.
Although Christians have already received forgiveness and reconciliation with God through faith in Christ, we continue to suffer under the curse of God on a sinful world. We are still waiting for a future salvation. As the apostle Paul puts it, we have been saved “in hope.” And “if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25). Even for those “children of men” who are currently living in rebellion against the Lord, God does not afflict them “willingly.” He does not delight in affliction and grief in their own right. He desires such suffering to move the world to repentance (Ezekiel 33:11; Luke 13:1-5).
The good news of Lamentations is that all who hope in the Lord will certainly experience His future salvation. Our faith-filled waiting is never in vain. The Lord will not cast off forever. Even in this present life, we experience countless ways that the Lord delivers us from affliction and grief: the financial provision, the loved one’s recovery, the passing of a pandemic. We are right to rejoice and to celebrate these expressions of God’s compassion and love in the midst of our suffering.
However, our hope is not finally in these present-day, earthly deliverances. If the job is lost, or the loved one dies, or the pandemic rages on, we continue to wait with patience for the steadfast love of the Lord. For even if we succumb to death itself, the Lord promises we will not be cast off forever. Those who are trusting in Christ will yet experience the abundance of His steadfast love when they are raised to everlasting joy in His presence. May we wait for that day with patience and faith in the Lord’s gracious promises!
Are you sometimes tempted to doubt the Lord’s compassion and steadfast love? What are you currently facing that tempts you in this way?
How does Lamentations 3:31-33 acknowledge the reality of such temptations?
How does Lamentations 3:31-33 confront these temptations with God’s promises?