Monday, May 5, 2014

New Every Morning

Have you ever wondered about some of the promises in the Bible?  Have you ever thought, in those places in your heart that no one else sees, that perhaps the promises were ... maybe exaggerated a little bit?  Or written for someone else?  Most of us have.  We don't admit it; we don't even like to admit it to ourselves.  But every Christian has moments of doubt. Moments where all we can see are the cold, hard realities of a fallen, cruel world.

For example, take this wonderful passage from the Lamentations of Jeremiah: It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Every man or woman who has ever been saved, by receiving Jesus Christ according to John 1:12, knows that God is merciful and compassionate. Even unsaved people, if they believe in God at all, usually understand this. We all acknowledge His compassion and mercy in our lives.

But there's that one phrase ... "new every morning."  Really? It doesn't always feel like that, does it?  When the alarm goes off at 5:30, and we pull ourselves out of our slumbers, are we thinking of the new mercies of the Lord, which we've received that very morning?  No, we usually think that we want to go back to sleep! But we raise ourselves up out of bed, and start planning and/or worrying about what the day will bring, at work or at school or with the family. At that moment, God's mercies don't seem "new," or extraordinary; we hardly think of them at all, at least until we've had a cup of coffee and said a prayer, or read a few verses of scripture. That's just human nature; that's our flesh. And even then, we're not really impressed by the mercies that God has already shown us, even before the alarm clock sounded off.

man waking up

The prophet Jeremiah had problems, concerns, and heartaches that put our own difficulties into perspective.  In fact, he was known as the "weeping prophet," because he had seen more human misery and horrendous catastrophe than almost anyone in or out of the Bible.  (Job's sufferings, which were unmatched by any man's, were at least limited to his own personal life.) But Jeremiah had seen his beloved nation of Israel go into total apostasy, rebelling (not for the first time) against the God Who had done so much for them, committing abominations and idolatries that Jeremiah could never have imagined.  The Book of Jeremiah records his faithful ministry to the people, warning them of God's coming judgment ... and, when they refused to listen, he saw God's judgment fall.  Jeremiah saw the invading armies, doing what invading armies usually do: raping, pillaging, murdering men, women, and children ... and, on top of that, utterly destroying the Temple of Solomon.  The Book of Lamentations is exactly that: Jeremiah's agonized reflections of what had happened to his people.

And yet, it's in the midst of some of the prophet's most mournful words, those of chapter three, that this extraordinary statement comes.  From the very first verses, Jeremiah bemoans what he has seen: I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me (Lamentations 3:1-20). 

But then the perspective comes, and he praises the Lord:  This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD (Lamentations 3:21-26).

So, leaving Jeremiah's time, where can we see God's mercies, in a new way, every morning?  If Jeremiah could see them, can we?

Do I have a roof over my head?  Millions upon millions of people in the world don't.  And with every hurricane, every earthquake, every natural disaster, people who had a home one day, did not have it the next: it was gone. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, the roof is still there, above me, because of God's mercy in not taking it away during the night.  That mercy is new every morning.

Do I have a portion of good health?  Yes I do; by the grace of God, I have a generous portion.  But a few years ago, I woke up one morning in a state of almost total paralysis.  Because of a sudden and very rare disorder, all of the potassium had been leached out of my system, and my muscles were failing.  When my friends took me to the hospital, the doctor said that, within 24-48 hours, the next muscle to fail would have been my heart.  I recovered quickly, in a matter of days; but since then, whenever I awaken, and am able to sit up in bed, I know that it's a new mercy of the Lord.  Why a "new" mercy?  Because one day, it wasn't there. 

You see, these things that we take for granted are really not promised to us at all. They could be gone at any time, and every morning, God's mercy in not taking them away is brand new, like the sunrise. I have heard men in prison pray, "Thank You, Lord, for waking me up this morning."  Those men understood.   

Then there are the mercies that are "new" in the conventional sense, something that hasn't happened before: a friend or loved one coming to Christ.  A sick child being healed.  A sudden break from financial pressures.  A reconciliation within a family.  Those blessings may be unexpected, but they, too, are new mercies.

And, probably most miraculous of all, is God's forgiveness.  Although my daily sins break my fellowship with God, until they're confessed (1 John 1:9), the penalty for those sins was paid, once and for all, at Calvary.  When I awaken, even if I need to do business with the Lord about this or that sin, I haven't been cast into Hell in the past 24 hours, which is what I deserve.  Although I may have to reap the earthly results of some stupid sin I've committed, Jesus already took my punishment. The miracle of God's grace and mercy is new every morning.

God's mercies are new every morning to everyone - - - not just believers in Jesus Christ.   The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works (Psalm 145:9).  The rain falls on the just, and the unjust.  But those who have not received Christ, but have rejected Him, need to enjoy His mercies while they're here on earth: because that's all the mercy they're ever going to see. One day, His mercy toward them will end, and they will be in Hell.

Praise God for His longsuffering, and patience, and for his mercies, which are truly "new every morning" - - - whether we realize it or not!

1 comment:

  1. Praise Him indeed, and His great faithfulness!