Anthony B. Robinson
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, [God's] mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23
Tomorrow is Sunday. I will go to worship to get my attitude adjusted, my perspective restored. I will go to be reminded that God's mercies never cease, that God's faithfulness is THE BIG TRUE THING.
Left to my own devices I forget this. I tend -- like the author of Lamentations -- to fix on how things are hard or unfair or just irritating.
The Lamenter, in verses just before those quoted above, puts it this way, "Brooding on my anguish and affliction is gall and wormwood. My spirit ponders it continually and sinks within me."
That's a pretty fair description of a spiritual rut to which most of us are prone every now and again. We focus on our grievances, our disappointments, life's little injustices -- and go slowly nuts.
It doesn't mean these aren't -- at least in some measure -- real. I'm sure the author of Lamentations had plenty of genuine lament material, and so at times do we. And it can be important to tell it like it is, without cover-up.
But that's never the whole story. Focusing on our pains or problems, we tend to forget the larger and longer story of mercy. We tend to forget how gracious God has been, and all that we have received that we can't honestly claim to deserve.
One Sunday, when I was the guest preacher somewhere, an elderly man with a cane hobbled up to me after the organ postlude. Grinning he said, "At my age, most every conversation is an organ recital." It took me a moment to get it, then we both cracked up. Despite his ailments, he was there in worship remembering God's mercies, laughing at himself and sharing the medicine of laughter and gratitude.
So, the Lamenter broke in on his own lament to say, "But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, [God's] mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." A good reminder. A perspective restorer.
Speak the truth of your grace into our sometimes too small, resentful and self-justifying lives, that we may be healed and set free. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.