One of my favorite Bible passages goes like this:
It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, KJV)
Not just because it’s the inspiration for the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (which in my opinion, is the real Mennonite Anthem). I like it because it’s in the least likely part of the Bible, smack dab in the middle of the Book of Lamentations. Which was written by Jeremiah, aka the Weeping Prophet. The guy who first tried to warn Judah that God was not happy with their rampant injustice and abuse of the poor and child sacrifice and so on, and then had to watch while Jerusalem burned. There’s a special kind of horror in watching those you love run headlong to destruction. I figure if Jeremiah could write those verses, then he must’ve known what he was talking about.
I wonder if you could interpret the middle part as His compassion is as inevitable as the sunrise. (Well, not really, because it leaves out the suggestion that his compassions/mercies may look different every morning as well as still being there or returning afresh. But anyway.) I like that word, inevitable. It’s strong, in a way that makes you go “eep!”
A lot of things are inevitable. Death and taxes, of course. Pain. Suffering. Loss. Negative things, usually, probably because we spend so much time trying to evite them. (“Evite” is apparently an archaic word for “avoid”. Yes, I looked it up.) Inevitable, inescapable, unavoidable, destined, irresistable, doomed. Children inevitably grow up. People inevitably grow old. Fashion inevitably goes through that “trendy” to “passe” to “hilariously out-of-date” to “classic” cycle. And sunrises, inevitably, happen.
“Morning by morning,” as the hymn put it. Every day. You’d have to stop the Earth on its axis or put out the sun. Not something really achievable during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. We think we have all kinds of power now, and there are some of us who hide in windowless rooms or sleep right through the sunrise, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there. There can be clouds and storms and ash and all kinds of natural things blocking the sun, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sunrise.
It makes me think of Nebraska weather. Our weather is interesting. It isn’t really that it changes three times a day so much as how extreme it gets, or how different two consecutive years might be. For instance, it depends on the year as to whether the beginning of April will be wintry, or spring-like, or rainy, or sunny, or if we’ll get snow. We’ve had frosts as early as August and as late as October, or that one year when we didn’t get any frost and got hit by a snowstorm instead. The blazing, insufferable heat of summer can start in June or hold off till late July, and there’s usually week in January that feels like spring. Meteorologists do their best, but there’s no predicting Nebraska weather.
Except for this: the season will change. We don’t know when. We don’t know how. We have been held in suspense before, watching days tick by and wondering when the storms are gonna hit (or the heat is gonna leave), and there have been Septembers that have been incredibly gorgeous, or Junes that never seem to end, but whenever people complain about the heat or the snow or the wind, I know this: the season will change. It’s not a maybe or a might. In six months, you’ll be complaining the other way. Guaranteed.
We can get buried under foot after foot of snow. It can be so cold that the streets are white with hoarfrost. Spring is still coming. It can be 100°F for a week and the humidity like a sauna and the air heavy and brown and disgusting. Fall is still coming. It can be gray for days with that horrible cold rain and sleet, but the clouds will break. A storm can be bearing down with all thunder and fury, but that too will blow itself out and the sun will be back. Guaranteed.
Jeremiah lost everything, except hope. Hope in the old sense isn’t a wish or a maybe, it’s closer to confidence. He knew, as sure as the sun rises, that whatever was going on, there would be mercy and compassion and loving-kindness. It would not fail to come.
New every morning. Great is your faithfulness.