May 14, 2020 • Life for Leaders
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
This is the sixth devotion in the Life for Leaders series: Walking with God in Uncertain Times. You can read the previous devotions in this series by clicking here.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I focused on a passage from Isaiah. In this passage, God’s people were living in “the time of trouble” (Isaiah 33:2). Yet the prophet promised that the Lord would be for his people “the stability of your times” (Isaiah 33:6). God’s justice, righteousness, salvation, wisdom, and knowledge would be a solid foundation for their lives.
The Hebrew word translated in Isaiah 33:6 as “stability” is ’emuna. It can be used in the Hebrew Bible with the sense of “stability” or “steadiness.” In Exodus 17:12, for example, when Aaron and Hur helped Moses keep his tired hands up in the air, the text says that Moses’s “hands were steady until the sun set.” “Steady” renders the Hebrew word ’emuna.
But ’emuna has another, related sense in Scripture. Isaiah 11:15 describes the messianic “shoot of Jesse” in this way: “Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.” In this instance, ’emuna is rendered as “faithfulness.” It’s not hard to see the relationship between these two senses of ’emuna. You can put your literal weight down on something that is stable. You can put your whole trust in someone who is faithful.
Perhaps one of the most familiar uses of ’emuna comes in Lamentations 3:22-23. The context for this passage is the writer’s extreme suffering at the hand of the Lord. But, while lamenting his suffering, the writer adds, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Even when we are going through the most difficult times, we base our lives on the stability of God. We claim in faith that God’s steadfast love for us never ceases, that his mercies never come to an end, that God’s faithfulness is great. And because God is faithful, we can live with assurance even in uncertain times, times of pain, times of lament, times of doubt.
My favorite hymn is “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm. The refrain is a poetic restatement of Lamentations 3:22-23: “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” My love for this hymn has to do, not only with what the lyrics affirm, but also with the contexts in which I have sung them. Some of these have been immensely joyful, like my ordination as a pastor. Others have been times of great loss. We sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” for example, in the memorial services for both of my parents. We weren’t denying our pain or pretending as if we had everything figured out. With a mixture of joy and sorrow, a combination of conviction and confusion, we were celebrating the mystery and the reality of God’s faithfulness.
So it is today in the midst of a pandemic. In these uncertain times, we find stability in God, the God whose faithfulness is great. Like the author of Lamentations, we freely cry out to God in our pain and confusion. Yet, remembering God’s steadfast love and daily mercies, we also confess God’s faithfulness, and therefore we have hope.
Something to Think About:
Do you have a favorite hymn or worship song? If so, what is it? Why is it your favorite?
When have you experienced God’s faithfulness in a particularly powerful way?
When you go through difficult times in your life, what helps you to trust God’s faithfulness?
Something to Do:
In your small group or with a Christian friend, share ways in which you have experienced God’s faithfulness in your life.
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! Amen.
Verse 1 and refrain of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm. Public domain.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Jeremiah the Poet at Work: Lamentations