We are not Consumed!

Lamentations 3:22-23  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I don’t know of any serious athletes who have not participated in some form of interval workout, whether it is a “beep test”, “running suicides”, “farklek workout”, or more conventional intervals on the track.   If you hear a fellow athlete mention that their workout on that day is any of the above, there is an immediate bonding as you empathize with the significant pain they are about to endure.

Typically, an athlete has an idea of the amount of pain they are going to endure.  The coach will explain what the workout is.  Perhaps they’ll say: “we’ll warmup and then we will be doing 20 suicides”, or “we’ll run 8 x 800m hard”.  These are painful workouts, but I feel the cruelest workouts are the ones where the athlete has no idea how long the pain will last because the quantity of intervals is totally in the hands of the coach.

A number of books have been written about the success of the Kenyan runners, most of these runners coming from the running hotbed of Iten (a small high-altitude farming village near the equator).  Unlike western interval running where we know the pain we will be subjected to; it is not uncommon for these runners to continue to suffer without knowing when it will end.  One westerner described it like this: “Here I see runners suffer to a degree that I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine anybody in the West subjecting themselves to.”[i]

Why would any sane athlete willfully accept such treatment from a coach?  Perhaps the coach is bellowing instructions to run faster from the sidelines, or worse, sitting in a comfortable chair shaded by an umbrella.  Every neuron in the athlete’s brain is saying “quit”, get out of the fire because it is excruciating.

Lamentations 3 is an interesting study of a man clearly in the midst of suffering.  In this case he is feeling the affliction of separation from God.  Verses 1-19 paint a sad picture of a very broken man – a man with a broken soul.  I can relate to that man.  I have felt like that man; I have felt abandoned and broken.  I have felt like I have been scourged, felt like I have been pierced multiple times in my heart.

Yet in verse 21, there is a drastic change in the tone.  The author remembers his affliction, but he makes a decision to recall something of greater importance, and because of that he has hope.  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (vs. 22).  He makes a decision to recognize that God is good no matter the circumstances around us, no matter the pain, no matter the affliction. “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” (vs 24).

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (vs 25-26)   In such situations of pain and suffering, we only have one whom can save us, and we therefore need him to rescue us.  While you may want to jump out of the fire as you pursue God’s calling in your life, persevere my dear brothers and sisters.  “It is good to wait quietly”.  In that place, we will never be consumed!  We are running for the greatest coach in the world, the one who makes no mistakes, who has an indescribable love for us, and the one who knows how to train his disciples.

[i] (The Goldmine Effect, 2013), Ankersen, Rasmus. Collins.

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