“We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near” (Psa 75:1).
Text: Lamentations 3:22-33
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I 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 hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silent, because God has laid it on him; Let him put his mouth in the dust – there may yet be hope. Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, and be full of reproach. For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.
The Lord does nothing evil to you. He afflicts you because He loves you and wants to prepare you for eternal joy. If you are unconverted, His visitation will cause you to pay attention to the Word and to obey His call. Thousands who are in heaven would have been in hell if tribulations had not taught them attentiveness to God’s Word. That paralytic would not have been prepared to receive forgiveness of sins if he had not tasted the pains of sickness, and David could not have been counted among the saved if he had not first felt the Lord’s heavy hand. God did not put Jacob’s hip socket out of joint for His own pleasure and did not plague Jairus’ house without a purpose. The blessed in heaven thank God because He used the sharp rod of tribulation to wake them up, and who knows if this sorrow which now troubles you will not become a blessed help for your conversion? At any rate, as long as you live, this is the Lord’s intention in it.
But if you are a believer, then I certainly should not have to reassure you about the blessing of the cross. But how slow we are to learn finally to thank God for tribulations. Know then, that precisely the opposition and the pain you have are the best that can happen to you, and that the Lord’s great mercy sends them to you. In this way you are humbled to be like Jesus, thus your heart is loosed from the world, thus prayers, patience, hope, and confidence are called forth, thus you are sanctified and prepared to enjoy heavenly salvation. “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Act 14:22), and no one becomes great before the Lord except by humility. What a deep sea such men as Jeremiah and David had to go through to become comforters of God’s Church, to sing the pilgrims through the dark valleys to Jerusalem!
“What should I do in my great tribulation and worry, Lord, if You did not strengthen me with Your holy Word? O if just once I could come to the harbor of salvation, what would worry me then, no matter what or how much I still would have to suffer?” You, Lord, are my Portion, what more should I desire? If You hide Yourself, then I will wait and hope, and You shall soon change my mourning into songs of thanksgiving and surround me with eternal joy. Your name be greatly praised! Amen.
So learn your Father’s gracious will
And know His chast’ning measure;
For ev’rything would turn for ill
If our flesh had its pleasure.
And let our heart not unto death
In this world find its resting,
But be hasting
To You, O Lord, by faith
In midst of harshest testing.
O lead us, take us by the hand,
The best way You are finding,
And Your good Spirit to us send
Of Your grace us reminding,
That wheresoe’er You lead us still,
Your way is ever glorious
Though hard it may be still,
To us You’re always gracious!
Schrader: O Gud, forstanden fatter ei L 274.8-9 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Ich ruf zu dir (ELH 255); alternate hymn: Jesus I my cross have taken ELH 424