To Know Peace, You Have To Know Pain

Wednesday, September 01, 2010
If you grew up in church in the South you probably have the lyrics to a bunch of hymns in your head.

One of the ones hardwired in my brain had this verse:
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases/His mercies never come to an end/They are new every morning, new every morning/Great is your faithfulness, Oh Lord".

What could be more reassuring than that? God's love is always there, we get a fresh start every day, God is constantly faithful. Best of all, the song is almost a direct quote from the Bible, so it has the added advantage of being God's very words!

Here is the thing about it, though.

The verses upon which the song is based are taken from a book called Lamentations, which is not exactly a cheery title. And the chapter the verses are taken from - really, a long poem - is among the most initially depressing in all of the Bible.

Click here for just a small sample and come back when you are done.

See what I mean?

From that dark beginning of pain and abandonment and suffering (and it gets worse) the writer gets to the incredible affirmation of faith and hope that we still sing today.

How does that work?

Because those who know God's peace the best are usually the ones who have felt the most pain.

Water never tastes better than after a long run on a scorching day. Food never tastes better than when you have missed a meal. NOT having a headache never feels better than right after your headache has gone away.

God uses our experiences of pain and loss to prepare us to revel in his peace and purpose.

So if you are in a time of lamentation, take heart. God IS faithful, his mercies ARE new every morning, and the day will come when you can celebrate them both.

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