One of the most often quoted verses that I hear is “His (God’s) mercies are new every morning”. I thought about that verse quite a bit this morning. I slept in a bit to try to recover from a long 2 weeks. It’s not over, but we are starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel. I woke up to sunshine and 68 degree temperatures. It’s the type of morning you envision when you start talking about March in Texas. It felt perfect and it felt hopeful. The sun shining with a nice breeze made today truly feel like a new day. Not just another day.
The verse above is from Lamentations 3:23. It’s not an exact translation because it refers to the verse right before it. Verse 22 and 23 say:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
It’s a powerful statement in and of itself. But it’s more powerful in context. Lamentations is not exactly the book that we turn to for hopeful quotes. There are loads of those in the Bible but Lamentations is not a book full of them. In fact, if most year long Bible reading plans didn’t get tripped up in Leviticus, Numbers, and 1 Chronicles, I hesitate to say that many wouldn’t make it through the book of Lamentations. The name of the book describes what it is-Lament. It is a book that is full of sorrow over the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying off of Jews. A land that the Jews believed was theirs and had been given to them by God was ripped from them by the empires that surrounded. The glorious kingdom of the Jews was over, dead long before it’s glory every really reached.
Lamentations is a book that mourns that death. We read 2 full chapters and 20 verses of the third chapter of utter brokenness. Brokenness over the people, brokenness over the plan, brokenness over himself (presumably the prophet Jeremiah). The beginning of chapter 3 is possibly the most difficult to read as the author begins to describe his own state. I think that many of us can relate to how he feels a times. Beaten, abandoned, alone, and numb. There was so much pain in his life that it began to feel like the norm. His words in the first 20 verses at some point describe how we have all felt. But verse 21 begins the small shimmer of hope. Jeremiah says this:
“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. The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I will hope in him. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Despite the wailing, the sorrow, and the desolation there is still hope. It is not in the midst of rejoicing and gladness that Jeremiah looks out his window, sees the sun, and says “Great is your faithfulness, Lord”. No, it is in the midst of a world that Jeremiah didn’t want to open his eyes to see. The mercies that we experience everyday do not come from the smiles we put on and lives we wish we led, they are experienced when our hearts are sorrowful, when we feel trapped, when we feel discouraged. We run to the rock of salvation and cry out “Why am I here? Why do I even exist if this is existence? Is this what you want from me? Is this what I was created for?”
We expect a verbal answer and what we receive instead is the mercies of a new day. The mercies those around us, of hope in the form of a kind gesture, a friend’s text, or an unexpected hug. We grasp on to those moments and savor them daily because what beats on the door of hearts is that which seeks to implant fear and discouragement into our lives. It speaks lies about our worth and our value and tricks us into beleive great we are something that we are not.
Lamentations doesn’t describe a time of joy and happiness that allows us to sing God’s praises as we run through the flowers on a day when everything is going right. Lamentations describes God’s love for us and our ability to hope in him when everything seems bleak and when our hearts are downtrodden. Lamentations doesn’t describe a happiness and a hope in our situation that is apt to change but rather describes our ability to have hope in any situation because our hope is not based on my frailty, but on God’s faithfulness.