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A New Year Every Day

“…my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” — Lamentations 3:20b-23

Well, here we are, already into the New Year. Some of us made resolutions, and some of us have already broken them. Some of us have become wise enough not to make New Year’s resolutions because we know we’re going to break them.

I think that God has mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. On the one hand, I think He is all about renewal and second chances (and third, fourth, fifth… as many chances as we really need). On the other hand, I don’t think God wants us to wait for a new calendar year before we resolve to change the things we need to change. I think God wants us to renew ourselves at least daily, and as we grow in our reliance on Him, He would like us to renew ourselves moment by moment.

Lamentations is a book in the Bible that contains five poems written after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. It’s not a happy book. The Jewish people had seen their holy city destroyed, many of their friends and family had been killed, and most of the survivors were taken captive. They lost everything and there was no insurance with which to start again. Compared to the average life we live today, things were in pretty bad shape. The writer in chapter three says: “my spirit is depressed”. No kidding, so would mine be. Yet in the middle of this, the writer draws hope from God. He notes that in spite of everything, God’s “unfailing love and mercy still continue”. The New Living Translation says “His (God’s) mercies begin afresh each morning.” God renews things at least daily.

I take two levels of comfort from this. On one level I am relieved that God’s love does not run out, no matter what circumstances I am in. Some of my worst days have been on deployment far from home, dealing with complex issues in threatening environments, with far less sleep and support than I would normally have. I have felt overwhelmed at times, at a loss with what to do next. . . but then I hear from my wife. She too has had some dark days when we’ve been apart. For her, life has continued at the same pace as before, only she has shouldered the burdens that we both shared when I was home. When everyone was ill, she had to keep going. When the children were down, she had to pick them up even though she felt like collapsing herself. When things went wrong, she felt the sole weight of responsibility. Yet at those times, God’s love was unfailing. What we thought we couldn’t get through, God led us through with room to spare.

On the second level, I need God’s mercies to be renewed every morning. I stumble every day—and if God did not show mercy, my life would be a well-deserved series of punishments. The nature of mercy is that it is undeserved, and God, the creator of the universe, renews His mercy towards me every morning. That amazes me! More than anything else, this fact drives me to behave better for Him. I want to be a more worthy person, husband and father, making best use of the multiple chances that God offers me through His mercy.

I think our enemy, Satan, would like us to wait for a New Year to make promises that we will struggle to keep. He would also like to shoot the fiery dart of discouragement and to see us lose hope when the pressures and temptations of life quickly crowd in. He wants us to feel defeated, overwhelmed and believing the lie that we can never measure up to what God wants for us. God knows (and so do we, if we are honest enough) that we cannot survive intact without tapping into His love, mercy, and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit on a daily basis. That’s why He provides it daily. I think that if we asked God, He would say that a New Year starts every day!

Questions to Share:

1. List the things that you are struggling with in yourself, your marriage, or your family that you need a fresh start with every morning.

2. Discuss these with your spouse (if you can – maybe being honest with your spouse is something you need daily help with?). Commit to praying for these things daily.

3. Write down Lamentations chapter 3, verses 22-23 on an index card and put it somewhere where you will be reminded every day that God’s love and mercy have been provided for you, renewed every morning.

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