Have you had one of those days when giving thanks is the last thing on your mind? When “rejoicing” in the Lord seemed difficult? Those days when a flood of bad news, stress and uncertainty drown out other thoughts?
Even if you were untouched, 2020 made it nearly impossible to ignore the collective suffering of our friends, families, and communities. Thanksgiving is easier on sunny days and happy occasions.
The prophet Jeremiah must have felt the same way when he wrote these lines: “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” (Lamentations 3:21-23).
This verse is often invoked at weddings and other such joyful moments. But it’s worth considering the context of the passage. Lamentations, as the name suggests, is perhaps the most heart-rending and tragic book in Scripture. Lamentations 3 includes lines such as, “He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead”, and “You have wrapped Yourself with anger and pursued us.” Not exactly the sort of thing to sing on a Sunday, is it?
Remarkably, it is during this time of grief that Jeremiah makes the choice to dwell on the Lord’s faithfulness. The only way he survives these moments of spiritual darkness is to choose to remember God’s eternal love. When we feel like God is not listening — or worse, is angry — our only chance is to choose to remember the truths we know about God, His past acts of faithfulness, and our future hope of an eternity with Him.
The only way Jeremiah survived those moments of spiritual darkness was by choosing to remember God’s eternal love
But while most of us know that God is good and faithful intellectually, there will be times when our hearts cannot feel it. Jeremiah adds that the Lord’s mercies are “new every morning.” His goodness is renewed, replenished, always surrounding us even when obscured by circumstance and struggle.
The Book of Common Prayer includes this thanksgiving, intended to be prayed each day: “Give us such an awareness of Your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth Your praise.”
We need to actively train our minds and hearts to be aware of God’s goodness in our daily lives, to notice and appreciate both the big and small ways in which He displays His kindness and grace. These mercies can be simple — a song, a loved one’s hug, a fragrant cup of chai, the pages of a good book, or the colours of a sunset. Are these mundane? Yes, they are, but no lesser evidence of God’s grace. And in moments where it seems that God has turned His face away, these small mercies can be lifelines, serving as reminders that He has not forsaken us.
The mercies of God are new every morning. Some days, we just have to look a little harder to see them.
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