Spiderman, Lamentations, and the Steadfast Love of God

My youngest son came to me this morning, asking as he does every morning, to fasten the velcro closures on the back of his Spiderman costume (he wears this thing like it’s his job). Only this time, he looked me in the eye and asked, “Are you tired of doing this? “

What a funny question for a four-year-old to ask! I was surprised that he had the emotional capacity to shift perspectives in that moment and question how I felt about doing this thing that I do almost every day. And, of course, I answered (sincerely), “No! I love doing this.”

Because it’s true. I love that he loves this costume and wants to wear it every day. I love that his imagination switches on as soon as he’s suited up. I love his patience as I fasten all three little fuzzy circles together.

I love him; therefore, when he comes to me in need, I want to meet him there every time.

Is it obvious where I am going with this? I can’t help but hear the echo of my own questioning heart in my son’s question.

God, are you tired of me coming to you?  Are you annoyed at my inexhaustible need for you? Are you done healing my broken places?  Bored with hearing the same old prayers and petitions?

Thank God that He is not like us!

I don’t know about you, but to me, one of the most shocking things about God is the steadfastness of His love. In Lamentations we read these poetic words:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lam. 3:22-23

Do you know who wrote those words? While the book doesn’t explicitly list the author, there is significant historical evidence that it was Jeremiah, the ‘weeping prophet’! (see Jer. 9:1)

In the typical literary form of ancient lament writings, Jeremiah brackets his proclamation about the love of God between descriptions of his intense suffering (3:1, 3:19) and enemy persecution (3:46-48). Jeremiah is loud with questions (3:37-39) and complaints (3:4-18), and if anyone had the “right” to ask questions about suffering under the sovereign hand of the Lord, it was Jeremiah. He spent decades of his life witnessing (and experiencing, first hand) the judgment of the Lord against a wayward nation.

But what did those 40+ years of corporate judgment produce in Jeremiah, the man?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.” (3:22-24)

Jeremiah is showing us -with his life and words- that there is no love like the love of God. Jeremiah is extolling the love of the Lord because God has been his rock (solid, trustworthy, faithful) during the raging storm of his nation’s rebellion (and God’s response therein). Whatever love we might show to our children/spouse/friend in a moment of tenderness is only a tiny taste of the real thing.

Do we experience the love of God in some way when we help our preschooler put on a Spiderman costume for the 1000th time? Yes, I think so! But the deeper truth here is that God’s love is not like our loveour love is limited, it is a shadow. God’s love is the Reality we long for…it is what drives our hope. 

As Jeremiah wrote, the love of the Lord is relentless, abiding, and actively drawing from a bottomless well of mercy.

The love of the Lord is fresh every moment;

it is forgiving of sin

and giving of new life

and ever-ready to meet those of us who need a love like that.

I need a love like that.

Do you?

We can hang on tightly to this love -to the Lord Himself- because He will not abandon us when we need Him the most. In the small daily moments and in national disasters alike, His love is capable of sustaining us. His love is steadfast.

Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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