By Jason Bowman
“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.”
It might come as a surprise to learn that these inspiring and hopeful words come from the book of Lamentations. In 586 BC, the Babylonians sacked the Holy City of Jerusalem. They carried the people of Israel into exile. Jeremiah describes this dreadful reality in these words:
“Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks … All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile … All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish” (Lamentations 1:2-4).
The Israelites experienced a deep loss during this time that brought them to the point of despair. Throughout Lamentations, Jeremiah describes many ways Israel failed. As he thinks back over the years that led to the Babylonians conquering them, he knows some things could have been different. He mourns what has been lost. I think we can all relate to that. If we think back over our lives, we all probably have some regret. We made certain decisions we would change if we could. We acted in ways we are ashamed of now. The truth is that we cannot go back and redo our lives. Jeremiah knew they could not save Jerusalem.
Yet, while he got to the point of despair, he never let it overcome him. He wholeheartedly believed that God’s compassion and faithfulness were new every morning. In lamenting the destruction of the Holy City of Jerusalem, Jeremiah still found hope. He did not pretend the past did not happen, but he trusted that with God everyday is new and therefore every new day brings new possibility.
We have the opportunity to start fresh every day. We can look upon our “desolate” Jerusalem, whatever that may be for you, and either get lost in our despair or find hope in our God. Jeremiah and so many other saints chose hope because with each new dawn, they saw the compassion and faithfulness of God shine anew.
Begin today and each day after by consciously reminding yourself that the compassion and faithfulness of God is new again. That means the possibilities in God for this new day are endless. Remind yourself that with this new day, God can do a new thing in your life. Ask him to open your eyes to the work he is doing all around you and in you. Ask him to help you believe and rest in the future he is working out. Sit quietly with God for a few minutes each day and just listen.
John Keble, an Anglican priest of Hursley near Winchester, published a book of poems in 1827. He wrote a beautiful one called ‘New Every Morning is the Love’ based upon Lamentations 3:22-23 quoted at the beginning of this devotional. I’d like to quote the entire poem because it is that good, but I will share just two stanzas and include a link if you want to read the whole.
“New every morning is the love Our wakening and uprising prove; Through sleep and darkness safely brought, Restored to life, and power and thought.”
Later on in the poem he writes:
“Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be, As more of heaven in each we see: Some softening gleam of love and prayer Shall dawn on every cross and care.”
Like Jeremiah, Keble understood the power of God’s new mercies everyday in our lives. We cannot avoid the struggles and hardships in life, but we can see them through the compassion and faithfulness of God that is new every morning. Read and give thought to the way Keble reflects on faithfulness and daily work in our lives.
The full poem can be found here