At a church one Sunday it was like I was pierced right between the eyes, and the sermon hadn’t even started. I was standing there with friends “worshipping” when a man I know and his new girlfriend filed in with both their kids and sat a few rows in front of us. My mind started running every which way wondering to myself “How soon is it ok to just show up at the church that your wife goes to, with the new girlfriend you left her for?”
And it was clear as day. Almost as if a voice from heaven yelled at me in row 9, straight down from the clouds. When are My mercies new for other people, Willow?
I often claim God’s promise out of Lamentations 3:
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
I have prayed many a morning, reminding myself, “Lord your mercies are new for me today.”
Mornings where I have completely blown it the night before, I have stood on the promise that His mercy is afresh upon me.
Mornings when my parenting fails woke me up discouraged, my Father encouraged me with this good, good promise.
Mornings where I felt like I have failed relationships I care about and needed a renewed sense for the path forward, I have prayed this lamentation.
Mornings when my husband and I woke up to coffee AND still being mad from the night before, I have asked God to shower me with His brand-spankin’-new mercies.
And every morning that I have asked God for His fresh mercy, I have been its recipient. I have jumped off my couch and felt a sense of forgiveness, of freedom, of shame let go. I have been given courage to press on, not looking back but instead ahead because of God’s good mercy toward me. I have been let off the hook for nasty behavior and mean banter. I have been let out the jail I created in my own head. I have seen the Hand of God extended toward me in a deep dark pit that I would never have gotten out of on my own. And every time I find myself there in the pit again, I call out to this beautiful God and in earnest prayer claim, “Your mercies are new every morning and I need them to be new today.”
And wouldn’t you know it, they are.
That Sunday, God knocked me out with a jab to the throat. When are my mercies new for other people? Not everyday? Only some days? Every other decade? After one proves they are so, so, so very sorry? When they make up for all they did wrong? Once they suffer all the consequences of their mistakes, then maybe, then? Are God’s mercies new for people only when they do what I think they should? Are God’s mercies only new for people who can erase everything they messed up? Are God’s mercies only new for those whose screw-ups aren’t so big?
Maybe what’s wrong in the pews on Sunday is people like me who are begging for mercy for themselves, but are unwilling to hope it for others.
I am pretty sure Lamentations promises each one of us that God’s mercies are NEW EVERYDAY. A man who leaves his wife and starts a new family with his hot girlfriend and rakes his kids through the ringer can find mercy tomorrow morning and there is nothing I can do about it. Why? Because God is that big and His mercy is that compassionate and that powerful and it stretches that far. God’s mercy is not dependent on my opinions, nor my ways. His mercy is boundless and does not end. Though I might want another to suffer for what they have done or learn their lesson or limp a little for their ugly betrayal, God can extend mercy to whom He wants, when He wants.
You know who needed mercy most that Sunday?
I needed God’s mercy to reach down into my black pit of judgement and say, Willow, I will even extend you mercy for the way you rule people out of my Kingdom, the way you make assumptions about others, and the way you try to take over my job of shelling out mercy. His mercies are made new every morning. Thank God. I need them. Maybe you do too.