Pentecost 5, June 27, 2021

Wait Quietly - Great Is God’s Faithfulness 

Text: Lamentations 3:22–33

  • We are now well into the “growth” time of the Church Year. As weight lifters often say, “No pain, no gain,” we, too, know even more that God brings great good through the trials that befall us. 
  • “therefore I will hope.” The Hebrew imperfect verb conveys both present and future assurance: because God’s grace and mercy are shown anew every morning, I have hope now and in the future I will continue to hope. 
  • God’s undying love brings reassurance to his people even though they were shattered by a series of national disasters.
  • God will always be true to who and what he is.
  • We humans often discourage each other by saying, “If you had more faith, this unfortunate thing wouldn’t have happened to you!” In Scripture, the primary focus is not on our faith but upon God’s faithfulness. Like love, faith starts with God’s commitment to us. He works faith.
  • We must steer clear of the humanistic assumption that God is a projection of our image (although in our moments of extreme moods we do try to “create” him like us). Instead, God comes first, and we are the result of his creative hand. 
  • Waiting is emphasized today. That for which one waits is God’s timing, not ours, and for God’s answer. One doesn’t tell God what is best. One waits quietly, which means, in part, no complaining.
  • People talk about suffering often, for it is a prominent part of life. In talking about suffering, HOPEFULLY we as Christians always tell of how God uses it for our good.
  • People don’t talk very much of how to endure suffering. As God’s people, when we are brought into suffering - what is our attitude and understanding? How do we respond to the suffering and to God. Very simply,
  • In Trial, We Wait Quietly for the Good God Has for Us.
  • Between 1931 and 1935, the Hoover Dam was constructed. When you walk along the sidewalk on the top of the dam, you can see the dam’s face on one side and Lake Mead on the other. Here, you are at the nexus of great power and productivity.
  • Amazingly, such power and productivity arose from a time of crisis in America: the years of the Great Depression. During the depression, the unemployed traveled across America to find work building this dam. Southern Nevada became home to workers from forty-seven states, and out of this national suffering came what was to be known for a decade as the tallest dam and the largest hydroelectric plant in the world.
  • A time of great suffering became a time of revelation. In the midst of suffering, people saw great power and great work.
  • Our text this morning offers Christians a glimpse of God’s great power and work in the midst of suffering. Israel has been exiled to Babylon, her city Jerusalem laid siege, her walls torn down, her temple destroyed. Out of this suffering comes a voice of lament, the Book of Lamentations. 
  • And in the center of this book is a revelation of the amazing faithfulness of God. From the cry of God’s people in the midst of suffering and judgment comes a word of faith that remains firm for future generations.

I. God speaks three declarations to us as we wait quietly.

       A.   God’s nature is loving-kindness, and he is always true to his nature.

       B.   God’s compassions, though they never stop, seem as though they come anew every morning.

       C.   God is the portion, the life, and the meaning for my existence, that which makes me valuable in his eyes.

 II.    As we wait quietly, Jeremiah encourages us with three things that are good.

       A.   God is good to the waiting ones—ones who belong to him but wait on his coming to them.

       B.   Good it is that one waits and waits in quietness.

            1.   It is in accord with the attitude of humility that is appropriate for one who belongs to God through his mercy and grace.

            2.   The very thing for which one waits is salvation, whether it be for rescue in this life or for the final resurrection into heaven.

       C.   Good it is that one learns very early in life that waiting quietly is good.

            1.   One is rather pliable in one’s youth.

            2.   One learns lessons that stay with one.

 III.   The text suggest three exhortations—which come only to those who belong to God—as to how to live out the faith God has given us as we wait quietly.

       A.   Since the reason for waiting in quietness is that God brings the suffering, let us wait as God brings health and healing in his way and in his time.

       B.   Let us silence our mouths as a way of waiting in quietness.

            1.   Illustrated here by filling the mouth with dust from the ground as one bows so low to the ground that dust comes into the mouth.

            2.   The bowing is an indication that there is stark contrast between the sinner and the Sinless One.

       C.   As we wait quietly in suffering, let us identify ourselves with the coming Messiah (coming from Jeremiah’s perspective of living six hundred years before Jesus).

            1.   Christ Jesus would give his cheek to those who struck him.

            2.   Christ would bear the reproaches we deserved.

            3.   Thus to suffer as Christians reminds us that we have the salvation Christ won by his sufferings.

 IV.   God gives us three promises as we wait quietly.

       A.   God promises that the infliction of suffering and pain will not go on forever—it is only for a time, a time that we need.

       B.   God promises that he will always act according to his steadfast love and give out compassion upon compassion.

       C.   God promises to remember his nature, only meeting out agony on his people as something alien to him.

            1.   God’s nature is to act kindly in forgiveness.

            2.   Though Jeremiah only knew of the promise, we know that God’s alien task was dispensed when the Father showered his wrath on his Son, all for us.

  • Waiting is hard, and it is even harder to do so quietly. Yet, blessed with the perspective of the New Testament, we see how God has so beautifully given us what we’ve all waited for—Jesus, and the salvation he earned for us all on the cross. 
  • On the floor of the Hoover Dam there is what is called a celestial map. This map commemorates the day that President Roosevelt dedicated the dam. Rather than giving a date, however, it gives the configuration of the stars on that day. The designers of the dam thought their project was so great and so daring that they needed to help future generations locate its occurrence in time. According to astronomers, the celestial map will enable people to date the dedication for the next fourteen thousand years.
  • This morning, God has given us the promise of his faithfulness. It can be read by the faithful, not by looking at the stars but by looking at a cross
  • There, outside the city of Jerusalem, God the Father condemned his only Son to death that he might bear for us the sins of the entire world. Now, risen from the dead,  Jesus Christ proclaims God’s steadfast love to you and to all nations. 
  • God’s faithfulness to this promise is great. It is great in its power to forgive you your sins. It is great in its extent, lasting from generation to generation. And it guides your lives in hope until Christ returns. Then, he will bring about a new creation, where all those who believe in him will live in the wonder of his great faithfulness and love. Amen.