God is Bigger Than Your Elephant

For the past two weeks, each morning when I rise and each evening when I lie down, the words to this old hymn sing in my head. “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 Thy faithfulness of Lord, great is Thy faithfulness.” These beautiful words were penned by a somewhat obscure person, Edith McNeil.

              Many might think because I am a pastor that I have the entirety of scripture memorized with chapter and verse at my minds beck and call. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a terrible memory for numbers…unless they are dates of history. I’m reminded often that this is a pointless gift. While I appreciate the sentiment, as a history guy, I disagree…but I digress.

              A friend of mine wrote a devotional book titled, “96 Days of Unbroken Time with God” (David Andrew Thomas, 2019). Day 81 discusses the beauty of lament.  Here he pulls from the book of Jeremiah’s lament that we call Lamentations. Verses 3:22-23 read in the ESV, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” As ashamed as I am to admit it, I had no idea this was directly quoted from scripture. It does not surprise me as the verses of many hymns are, yet it struck me that for the past 14 days I have been singing a song of lament.

              I suppose that you could argue that it is an affirmation of God’s faithfulness…obviously you would be correct. You could also argue that this affirmation is not lamenting anything…I see your point. Forgive me for disagreeing with you. See, the basis of lament is this. I cry out to God because of a painful situation I am in. I do not see my way out. I cry to Him, pleading for help. In the midst of my cries for help, I am reminded of the goodness of God…I’ll save this song for a later blog. I hear my voice rise above my doubt and begin to sing, “the steadfast love”…I falter as I am in the midst of despair. “Of the Lord never ceases.” I continue, “His mercies never come to an end”. My confidence builds as I remember all of the mercies my God has bestowed upon me. “They are new every morning”… yes God. “New every morning.” As I come to the crescendo, I raise my voice in confidence “Great it Thy faithfulness oh Lord, great is Thy faithfulness.”

              In this moment I am reminded that in spite of my circumstance, in spite of my lament, I see a God that knows the east from the west and has separated my sin as such. In my lament, though I do not understand the “why God” question, I recognize His sovereignty over my life. I recognize that it is okay to grab a box of tissues or a roll of toilet paper and cry over my circumstance. I not only recognize that I can, but I recognize its value to me.

              It is easy to skate through life avoiding tense or painful situations…at least we attempt to. We have become really good at ignoring the elephant in the room. As it sits on our head, “elephant? What elephant?”. We want the world and even more so, the church, to think we are good. There is no problem here. Can I challenge you to acknowledge that lament is good for your soul? It is good for your relationships. It is good for your emotional health. Lament is natural and needed. In those moments, we are reminded of the great unfathomable faithfulness of our God.

              Whether it is an elephant in the room or a fellow believer watching, learn to accept the gift of lament. Pull your Bible off the shelf. Dust if off if need be…again, I will blog on that later. Open to Lamentations and lament with God. Lament your situation, your frustration, and your confusion, your anger…you name it. God is bigger than your elephant. Cry out to him from a humble heart and let Him show you His faithfulness yet again. As a tip, tell your elephant to hit the road. I’m sure there are peanuts in the next room.

Special thanks to my friend, Missionary, Scholar, Teacher, Pastor Dave Thomas. His devotion fell on the day I needed it. I appreciate your spiritual wisdom and friendship. May His “steadfast love” sustain you!

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