I Am Not Consumed
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23, 24
What is it in your life that is more consuming than anything else, that renders your life hopeless, making you question if you can go on? There is nothing more consuming than sin, and sin piled upon sin is a death spiral from which there seems no escape. The sin that has already occurred in the past has been so destructive, the results, you think, cannot possibly be remedied.
I just attended the funeral of a man who was a dear friend for most of my life. He died at 89, but except for a fall from a ladder up in a tree some ten years ago, which had a great impact on his health, it was easily expected he would live to over a 100. He always had Christ on his lips, speaking of his Lord to others as a joyful daily habit. One of his traits was to share his wonder each day while reminding others that today is a new day, a day to begin anew. God’s mercy and compassion to us is such that despite what happened yesterday, today is truly a new day. “Isn’t that amazing? he would say. This truth, as described in Lamentations, puts the lie to the thought that our sins can consume us, and no remedy or hope can be found to the situation in which we find ourselves. This thinking has driven many a Christian into the pit of despair.
Jeremiah, known as “the weeping prophet, certainly traversed some deep valleys. He was no stranger to tears, pain and misery, and being thrust into one dismal situation after another. This small book following the book named after him, Jeremiah, is after all named Lamentations, a lament. Yet there is in the midst of sorrow the promise of compassion and mercy capable of remedying any crushing situation. Some just do not believe it; so they end up spiraling down into greater despair and more sin. There is little room in them for patience for waiting quietly for God’s remedy by placing hope in Him while earnestly seeking Him (see 3:25-26). The hope and the seeking are simply absent when there is no belief in the promise.
When sin is in the process of consuming your life and you recognize it, you are faced with several options: (1) My sin is too great and my circumstance is too impossible for remedy; so I do nothing except continue in it, hoping my despair will somehow pass. (2) I want a solution immediately. I want to see the light now at the end of the tunnel. There is no place for hope or waiting. (3) I believe the Lord’s promise and put my hope in Him, seeking Him through genuine repentance and patiently waiting for His salvation, however long it takes.
When I was in Vietnam and praying to survive the year-long tour, experiencing one brush with death after another, God’s answer to my prayer could have been my getting wounded so badly it would require my removal from the battlefield immediately and being sent home, or He could display His presence to me through continuing to surround me with His mercies and protection. In this case my year would not shorten. It would remain a year of 365 days in which I would continue on the battlefield. I would have to wait patiently for the salvation of the Lord for the rest of what seemed a longer than normal year. Very often our salvation from the situation which sin has created in our life necessitates waiting patiently for what the Lord is doing or will do, a process that tests the mettle of your hope in Him. It isn’t authentic hope if you expect an immediate escape and removal of the pain of the dilemma into which your sin has thrust you. There is not a set time as my tour of a year in Vietnam. The time of waiting is in God’s hands, molding your hope into a persevering one, which is hope indeed. Some are not willing to actually put on such a character of faith and would choose to sink into greater despair or become insensitive to sin altogether. The reckoning will eventually come after the searing of the conscience has done its damage.
Sin always consumes everything in its path, but its remedy is nearer than you know. Sin will always tell you, “I have gone too far, and there is no going back. But God’s promise still rings in the ear of the hearer of His Word, “My compassions never fail, they are new every morning!
“There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.
(Refrain from African-American spiritual taken from Jeremiah 8:22)
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