Because of the Lord’s great love we are not destroyed, for his compassions never fail; they are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23
I like to get up quite early in the morning.
I go to my little study at the back of the house for a time with God before the day really gets going. It’s specially pleasant, of course, at this time of the year, because the mornings are light. It’s good to look out of the window, especially when the sky is blue and everything is still and peaceful.
There is a sense of things being unspoiled. It won’t be long before the traffic builds up, doors will be banging and that feeling of newness will be gone for another day. Wouldn’t it be good if we could preserve it until we went to bed at night!
Yes, there is something magical about the beginning of the new day. And the writer of Lamentations (possibly Jeremiah, though the experts aren’t sure) celebrates the fact that God’s “compassions”, his mercies, are “new every morning”. I think that’s a beautiful expression.
When I was a child one of the things I liked at school was getting a new exercise book. The cover wasn’t dog-eared, all the pages were pure white, everything was perfect. And I would think “Right! That’s the way it’s going to stay! - no scribblings or blottings, no doodles, no crossings-out - only the very best work...” And it lasted - well, for about two days.
Each day we can start the same way... “I’m not going to lose my temper... I won’t be lazy or slapdash... I will resist the temptation to cut corners or allow bad thoughts to slither into my mind...”
But by the time it gets to ten o’clock - and that’s ten o’clock in the morning - sadly it’s probably not like that any more. Of course, we can easily make excuses for ourselves - we are under pressure, the demands on us are too great - but deep down we know the fault is ours. We simply haven’t grown enough in - what shall I call them? - the Christlike graces.
Can you imagine living a perfect day? A day when you succeed in maintaining purity of thought, word and deed through all the noises, tensions and difficulties? Going to bed at night knowing that you really do have nothing on your conscience?
An impossible ask? Perhaps. But this should be our aim. “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect,” says the Bible. “Be holy...”
Over the course of my life I have known just a few people who seem to succeed in that high aim. How I thank God for them! Of course, if you were to ask them they would say “No, no! - if you only knew!” (They might refer you to their husband or wife, if they have one, for the true story.)
And yet I don’t think they are just good actors - let’s face it, you can spot pretence or hypocrisy a mile off. No, they really do reflect that “beauty of Jesus” that eludes most of us.
The good news is that the mercies of God are not just “new every morning”, but new every minute of every day. Our problem often is that having blotted our copybook, as we put it, we then give up and say “Oh well, that’s it, I’ve messed up again, so it really isn’t worth bothering any more. Another failed day. I mean, I can’t expect to make a new start every five minutes, can I?”
But that’s where we’re wrong, seriously wrong. Yes, we can! All right, the morning only comes once a day, but the tender love of God is there for us twenty-four seven. If only we will turn to him, make a clean breast of where we have gone wrong, and start all over again, he is there to wipe the slate clean.
Suppose we keep falling down? Well, that’s not good. But there’s a simple answer to keeping on falling down - keep on getting up. And that is something that God, in his limitless patience, is always happy to help us do.
The simple truth of Lamentations 3:22-23 is echoed in the New Testament in several places, and nowhere more beautifully than in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Lord Jesus, we read that you were in every way tempted just as we are, yet without sin. Please help me to keep that high ideal before my eyes minute by minute, to refuse to settle for second-best, and to look to you again and again for the new strength you always delight to give. Amen.