Monday, October 30, 2006

Great is thy faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
new mercies I see

These words from the hymn come from Lamentations 3.22-23. Although the hymn sounds nice and encouraging, the chapter of Scripture that it comes from is full of wailing. And it's only because of the great mercy of the Lord, says the author, that Judah is not utterly destroyed. He underlines this a little further down:
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.
Lamentations 3.32-33
This is good news, that affliction or grief are not willingly imposed upon us. In other words, in the midst of destruction (which God takes credit for by the way), when it would be easy to imagine God as a vengeful cosmic tyrant, the author tells us, "Not so!" He does not willingly afflict or grieve us.

As we'll see a few days hence in Ezekiel, he does not take pleasure in the death of anyone -- even the wicked.

Which is a good example for me and shows how far I have to go. Because when I think about the deaths of men like Hitler or Ceausescu or "Chemical Ali", my tendency is to feel pleased that these creeps got their just deserts. But God does not willingly afflict anyone and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

What a merciful loving God we serve!

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