“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
If you could “graph” the book of Lamentations, the lowest point on the graph would be 3:17: “My soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is.” Misery and bitterness surrounded and filled the author. I don’t know of a gloomier verse in the Bible.
Only a few verses later, however, is a sweeping vision of a positive and hopeful faith. Lamentations 3:22-23 is the foundation for one of our favorite hymns, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” We sing it often at funerals. When life is toughest we need the clearest reminders that we can count on God.
We ministers expend a great deal of time and effort trying to convince members to be more faithful to God. Who couldn’t be could be more faithful? Frankly, it’s easy preaching to stir up a sense of guilt over giving less than 100%. Who gives 100%? More! More! More! So we end up with members who either regularly rededicate themselves or get saved every revival. This baptized legalism (as opposed to the circumcised legalism of the first century) is no gospel at all. It is simply a depressing message of “no, not yet, and never enough.”
I wonder how much better off we would be if we emphasized instead the wonders of God’s faithfulness to us? That’s the verdict of Lamentations. Whether the background of the book is the death of a king or the Babylonian exile, the author writes from a context of disaster and perhaps a vague sense that he may share in the responsibility for it. But he battles back from the brink of despair by looking to God’s faithfulness, and he has hope.
Do you believe every morning brings new mercies from God? Give it a try. I have. The real key I have discovered is not to look for the daily spectacle of a burning bush, but to see God’s mercy through simple reminders like birds of the air and lilies of the field.
I awaken each morning to the nub-wagging greetings of three Schnauzers. It’s always been remarkable to me how irrepressibly happy they are to see me. One or two of them has slept in the bed with Leslie and me. Yet when we begin stirring they are so pleased! They know we will pat them, let them out, feed them, etc. They have an innate trust in our companionship and goodness toward them. This daily canine blessing is hardly mundane. It’s a reminder of the steadfast love of the Lord for me.
Leslie awakens to start her day usually at the same time I begin mine. I’ve given the next statement careful thought, and I’m sure it is true: In 31+ years of marriage she has never gotten up grumpy. She has far more Schnauzer-nature in her than I do. Either brightly whistling, singing, or humming she moves smoothly into her day. Her love for me and her home is easy to take for granted. How different it appears when I see it as a blessing from a steadfastly loving God!
I drive to work in pre-dawn, often stopping for an Egg McMuffin and hash-brown that I eat in the car (not to worry, there’s very little traffic at that hour). I go through phases where that simple breakfast tastes so very good that I’m sure the children of Israel would never have complained if God had dispensed hash-browns instead of manna. A small reminder of the bounty we enjoy in our country. All good things come from God. Even Egg McMuffins.
Last week at this time we were all preparing for the arrival of the latest hurricane to hit our area. If you don’t live in the Gulf coast region then you have no idea of how these storms overtake nearly every aspect of life in the days leading up to landfall. At the very least they leave big, uncomfortable messes in their wake. At worst they bring death and destruction of homes and lives. In spite of all our satellites, planes, and even Jim Cantore we don’t know how bad it will be and exactly where it will be worst.
Yet here we are a week later. We are here. Alive. Rebuilding. Cleaning up. Comforting those who were hit much harder. This blessing is not a small mercy. I’m thankful.
You are, whether you realize it or not, a recipient of God’s new mercies. Your challenge is to have faith in Him and hope in Him. You think you have only a small faith and little hope? The reason you need only a mustard seed of faith is that we have a great and good God. Look at the new mercies He gives you each morning. Allow His faithfulness to stir your faithfulness.
September 4, 2012