Pastoral Perspectives

Mercies Anew

Have you ever found yourself in such a regretful situation that you would want to beat yourself up?

It could be losing your temper at someone who loves you very much – yes again! Due to your illness, you have become less patient and more demanding even though you know you should have treated your care giver better.

It could be squandering away an opportunity to share the Gospel. A door has been flung wide open but just as you reason to yourself why it may not be so appropriate to share, that opportunity slips away only to make you feel bad about your own cowardice and hesitancy.

It could be returning to the addictive habit which you want to kick and have been making progress, but in a moment of weakness you fall right back in again and you want to kick yourself instead!

It could be making a bad decision which not only affects you adversely but also has ripple effects on your family and even the wider community.

You cry out, “Will I ever be forgiven?”

We thank God for his pardon each time we sincerely confess our sins before him. In Christ, we already have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. More recently, I have been thinking about Lamentations 3:23 – “God’s mercies are new every morning”.

It is such a relief to know that God gives mercy for each new day. It is being replenished every morning; it will therefore not run out.

The prophet Jeremiah lamented over the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians because of God’s judgement over his wicked and idolatrous people. Jeremiah expressed his sorrow over the spiritual condition of his country but at the centre of his lament, he also expressed his hope for God’s mercies to be shown again.

Even in the darkest of times, God remains faithful and he will not cast off his people forever. His steadfast love never fails and every day and every morning, a new batch of mercies are made freshly available for us to access.

The most sinful person can therefore still find hope in a God who is willing to forgive anyone who comes to him in repentance.

Therefore when we sin, we sincerely pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” We can then begin each day with a clean slate without being encumbered by the failures of the previous day.

We are in the midst of the season of Lent. This is a time for us to deliberately remember and respond to the sacrificial death of Christ. It is a time for us to reflect on our own offence – a frighteningly evil heart, mixed motives, hypocrisy, un-forgiveness, revenge, lust, envy, greed, pride – what wretchedness, what depravity!

Yet we are overwhelmed by God’s mercies, overwhelmed by the cost of our pardon, the sacrifice on the cross, our forgiveness, our freedom – how undeserving, yet how privileged!

To ask God to have mercy is to ask God not to treat us as our sins deserve, but to ask God for mercy is also to ask him to have pity on us, to show us compassion, for he knows our frame and remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14).

When blind Bartimaeus, a beggar, heard that Jesus was passing by, twice he called out to Jesus to have mercy on him. He wanted Jesus to heal him, which Jesus did, thus showing him compassion.

Some of us may have to wake up to a new day anticipating hospital appointments, needles and scans; some wake up wondering how they can last another day given their debilitating illness and all the accompanying aches and pain; some wake up staring into the ceiling and knowing that the rest of the day is no different because they are bedbound.

Some wake up worrying whether they have the energy to care for a loved one who does not recognise them anymore; some wake up crying because the grief of losing someone very dear just refuses to ebb; some wake up not wanting to get out of bed because they know they are going to have a difficult day in the office.

Isn’t it comforting to know that God’s mercies are new every morning? However difficult the day ahead may be, God has compassion on us. He knows our plight; he empathises with us; he gives us grace upon grace, strength upon strength to face the challenges of each day.

Someone said, “The dawning of every new day could be seen as a symbol of God’s light breaking through darkness and his mercy overcoming our troubles.”

How do we access God’s mercies?

First, we read his Word because in it contains the attributes and actions of God, the Gospel of Christ and the promise of the Holy Spirit as our comforter, advocate and seal.

Second, we pray and commit the day to the Lord, especially concerning those things that are outside our control. By doing so, we are throwing ourselves at God’s mercies.

Third, we step out into the day in faith and expectancy, always being mindful of the presence of God in our lives. He will neither leave us nor forsake us; he’s a very present help in trouble.

Fourth, maintain a thankful heart. Thank God for the gift of a new day. Look out for blessings great and small as we move through the day. As we lie down in bed, look back at the day and thank God for his mercies, and then we can look forward to the following day where his mercies anew will be made available to us once again.

And when the storms swirl and rage
There are mercies anew
In affliction and pain
You will carry me through
And at the end of my days
When Your throne fills my view
I will sing of Your mercies anew

(Taken from the 3rd verse of the song “Mercies Anew” by Sovereign Grace Music)

Rev Lee Kien Seng

March 5, 2023